Here are a few of the questions I am most frequently asked:
Q: Who are the people on the covers of "Unbecoming A Nurse" and "From Unbecoming A Nurse to Overcoming Addiction?"
A: The cover models on both books are individuals who are not, and have never been, nurses. They are people who lent their support to this endeavor without any compensation, other than a complimentary copy of the book, along with my sincere thanks.
Q: How come neither book is available on Amazon.com and other on-line retailers?
A: While it was necessary to form a corporation to obtain an ISBN number to publish both books, Sea Meca, Inc. was never established with the primary motive of making money. Given that Amazon and other on-line retailers command 55% of list price to sell each book, plus an annual fee, and my mission is to get the books out to those in greatest need of this information, we opted to sell the books on our own. By doing so, we have been able not only to provide over 700 copies, free of charge, to nurses in-need, but to ship those copies at our own expense.
Q: Will there be another book?
A: I have no doubt that at some point there will be another book, as well as a second edition to both "Unbecoming A Nurse" and From Unbecoming A Nurse to Overcoming Addiction." Feedback from YOU as to what you would be most interested in reading is always welcome.
However, as there must be enhanced safety initiatives to protect nurses and student nurses from our potentially lethal tool of the trade, mood-altering prescription medications, which become a problem for some nurses, much more of my time is being spent on consulting, policy development and presenting nationally on this important topic to enhance nurse safety and wellness.
Q: What is the incidence of addiction in nurses?
A: Most studies suggest that between 10 and 20% of nurses will experience an issue with alcohol or another drug during their lifetime. Given that there are about three million Registered Nurses and hundreds of thousands of Licensed Practical Nurses in the U.S., even the lowest estimate of 10% equates to about 500,000 nurses experiencing an issue with a substance use disorder during their life span. Annually, thousands of nurses have an issue that is of sufficient magnitude to cause surrender of their license to practice nursing as these nurses often forfeit not only the income produced by their nursing practice but health benefits which may have covered treatment.
Q: With all the education and clinical training nurses receive, how can they still become addicted?
A: Knowing about a disease does not imbue anyone, including nurses, with resilience from acquiring a disease. In fact, health professionals are often lulled into a false sense of security that knowledge of medications will protect them from unsafe or dangerous use. This phenomenon is called pharmaceutical invincibility and it increases the risk for nurses and other health professionals who have abundant access to and knowledge of medications.
Q: If I suspect a colleague has an issue with drugs or alcohol, won't I be hurting them by reporting them?
A: On the contrary, reporting objective signs of substance use or abuse is the kindest thing you can do for the nurse, their patients, your colleagues and yourself. If a nurse displays objective signs of an alcohol or other drug problem, their life and the lives of those they care for are at-risk. As the American Nurses' Association Code of Ethics 3.6 on Addressing impaired practice states: "Nurses must be vigilant to protect the patient, the public, and the profession from potential harm when a colleague's practice, in any setting, appears to be impaired. The nurse extends compassion and caring to colleagues who are in recovery from illness or when illness interferes with job performance."
Q: I know a colleague who has a problem with alcohol or other drugs. What should I do?
A: While every situation has an infinite number of variables to consider, there are two responses that are usually not advisable: 1) to ignore the situation thinking it will get better over time and 2) to confront the nurse one-on-one. Substance use disorders are very powerful and progressive, chronic neurobiological conditions. These disorders do not improve on their own and often sufficient leverage must be exerted upon the afflicted individual before they get the professional help they need.
A case in point is that of former First Lady, Betty Ford, who threw her daughter out of the White House when she confronted her mother one-on-one regarding Mrs. Ford's alcohol use. It was not until a professionally orchestrated intervention was performed with all key people in attendance that Mrs. Ford's journey of recovery began.
Many a colleague has made an attempt to confront their co-worker one-on-one, only to have that individual avoid all future contact. Some nurses have even resigned from their current job to avoid further contact with the colleague who confronted them one-on-one. As leverage is best applied with a team approach including key individuals who are able to make requirements upon the nurse in exchange for continued employment or benefits or freedom from professional or criminal prosecution, it is often best to report objective observations up the chain, per established protocols in the workplace.
If you are a family member with similar concerns about the nurse in your life, a professionally led intervention which includes key stakeholders is often highly desirable. Check the Resource Page for additional sources of information and support, or contact me directly at email@example.com.
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