The American Nurses Association estimates that 6 to 8 percent of nurses misuse drugs or alcohol to an extent that it impairs their performance every day at work.
“It was my first thought in the morning. Did I have enough to get through the day?” said Michele Markant, a registered nurse and recovered addict.
For two years Markant lived a secret life addicted to prescription pain pills originally prescribed by a physician for a shoulder injury. She hid her addiction from work colleagues, family and friends.
“Nobody had any idea what I was doing. I had been writing and calling in my own prescriptions for opiates for about two years.”
It is estimated that emergency room nurses are 3 and 1/2 times more likely to abuse drugs than general practice nurses. Oncology nurses are two times more likely to binge drink. Markant was arrested, lost her job and eventually custody of her six children.
“It was one of the hardest days of my life,” said Markant.
Markant then spent 100 days in a drug treatment program and has been clean for two years. She is back to being a mom and hopes to return soon to nursing.
One study estimates that 12 percent of American physicians are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Emergency medicine and anesthesiology are the highest risk specialties for addiction.