When it comes to nursing the rate of substance abuse and addiction is believed to be higher than those seen in the general population. There are a number of reasons why these professionals may be prone to addiction and the abuse of drugs or alcohol. Job stress contributes to the statistics. Many nurses work 12 hour shifts or even longer hours. They experience the worst of human nature and tend to be verbally abused or even physically intimidated or assaulted at a higher rate as well. Those with the highest rates are typically nursing staff who work in areas where prescription medications and other drugs are widely accessible and available. The estimates put the rate of substance abuse or addiction among nurses as high as 15%, compared with 8%-10% of the public.
Another consideration is that many who enter nursing tend to be workaholics. This type of personality often leads to other compulsive behaviors and addictions as well. Another factor is that many are reluctant to point out the signs of substance abuse or addiction out of concern that the individual may lose their job and license. Instead other medical professionals often downplay the problem and do nothing to help. The individual may be reluctant to come forward because of the same concerns. There are treatment programs that offer complete confidentiality and privacy. Professionals who admit they have a problem and need help are rarely terminated, but they may find that they are under scrutiny when they return to the medical setting and their access to drugs that may be abused is usually eliminated for a specified period.