As a nurse, you do not need anyone to tell you that your job is stressful. In fact, you have one of the fastest-paced, most stressful jobs in the country, in addition to a high likelihood of sustaining an injury on the job or developing chronic pain. It is only normal to seek relief for anxiety, stress and pain. However, you and other nurses in South Carolina should understand the potential ramifications of developing a substance dependency, especially if the substances are illegal or you have obtained them without authorization from your medical center.

Psychology Today explains that dependence on drugs or alcohol is not uncommon in the nursing industry. In fact, about 10% of nurses across the country have developed addictions to numerous substances to help them cope with their pain or stress. Opiates are especially a problem in the nursing field, since you and your peers may have access to prescription opiates and other narcotic medications that are easy to become addicted to.

When does an illicit substance addiction become a legal and criminal problem for nurses? You may find yourself facing negative consequences for any of the following:

  • Getting pulled over for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Being disciplined by your employer for diverting medication meant for patients
  • Working while under the influence
  • Facing criminal charges for unlawfully taking prescription drugs from your employer

Developing a need for opiates, prescription medication or alcohol does not mean you are a bad person. It can mean that you are attempting to manage pain while trying to do a difficult job and working long hours with little rest or relief. You may also find yourself unjustly accused of taking medication from your employer, if another nurse has done so and blames you or if there is a mistake in record-keeping or inventory during your shift. Regardless of the circumstances, you are entitled to a fair and competent defense.