Nurses need support within profession to overcome addiction


Substance abuse and addiction among healthcare workers are common but the secret to giving nurses the support they need to overcome these problems may lie with their fellow nurses, according to MinnPost.

About 80 percent of states have a peer support network for nurses who are working to recover and re-enter nursing. Minnesota’s is one of the newer networks, beginning about two years ago. While a strong support network in general is helpful during the recovery process, support from other nurses can make all the difference, according to Marie Manthey, chair of the Nurses Peer Support Network.

“Nurses need to talk to nurses about their addiction,” she told MinnPost. “They can talk to their family. They can talk to their friends and their therapists. That’s all wonderful. But the real healing comes when a nurse is talking to a nurse. There is a connection and an understanding there that cannot be met in any other kind of relationship.”

Many nurses who struggle with addiction end up breaking their patients’ trust, and the shame they feel over that can hinder the recovery process, which compounds the problem by leading to them to delay or forgo treatment, Manthey said. Groups like the Nurses Peer Support Network help nurses with addiction problems connect with one another during the recovery process to overcome this sense of shame, and provides education to other nurses and nursing students about addiction in the profession and the factors that can cause or worsen it. Such work is more important now than ever, Manthey said, in the midst of an ongoing nursing shortage that will become worse if employers turn away qualified, sober nurses due to the stigma of addiction in their pasts.

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