Substance Abuse in Travel Nursing: Part 2

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By Misty Lack

July 20, 2022

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Substance Abuse in Travel Nursing: Part 2

Content Warning: descriptions of drug use are mentioned in this article. If you or some you know are struggling with substance abuse, get help here.

I wanted to let you all know how this started.

As I said in the first article, I suffer from chronic pain. During a clinical in nursing school, I found a pain pill in a patient’s bed. I said to myself, “You either get to be a pain patient or a nurse… You can’t be both!” I reported the find & went on with my day. While working charge nurse in the ER, a nurse left a patient’s prescription bottle with 100+ pain pills. I made it a point to tell the nurses not to set each other up for failure. Fast forward to 2014. I reported a nurse for possibly diverting. I emailed the director of the department & the VP of Nursing. NOTHING HAPPENED!! They let her quit. That planted a seed in my head.

“Well, that was easy!”

The next time I wasted a narcotic, I didn’t throw it in the shapes. I put it in my pocket. When I got home that morning, I self-administered my first IM injection. That was the beginning of the end for me. It felt amazing & I had my own dirty little secret. It wasn’t a week later I was shooting up in the bathroom. My job performance took a hit, and I transferred to another department. It was there that I sunk deeper & deeper into my addiction. Using multiple times throughout my shift. One of the nurses reported me to the director of the department. They watched me, ran reports, got called in, and questioned me about discrepancies. But, in the end, GUESS WHAT?!? They let me quit and didn’t report me to the BON. NOTHING HAPPENED!! To me, anyway. I walked away & my addiction continued to get more reckless & more dangerous.

2 yrs later… that sweet young nurse that reported me… she was found dead in a bathroom from an overdose.

I’m my experience… you cannot stop using by yourself. If you are not willing to self-report, you need to walk away & quit. You WILL either get caught or kill yourself.

There is not enough self-willpower. Your addiction is more powerful than you.

I, too, thought I was different. I was in control. But I wasn’t. I was just another junkie chasing that high.

The thing about the disease of addiction is that it does not  Discriminate. Red, yellow, black, white, her, him, tall, short, skinny, fat, rich, poor, happy, sad, the victim, the perpetrator, that disease is just waiting to attack when you least expect it.

Please reach out. Ask for guidance. Find a 12-step program. Pick up the phone. There is a way out & we do recover.

I’ll leave you with this. One of the 12 steps literature says, “any addict can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way of life.

Thank you for reading,

Misty Lack RN

We hope you found this article on substance abuse in travel nursing insightful and possibly helpful. Have you found yourself in a similar situation with substance abuse? Would you like to tell your story? Comment below.

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