Substance Abuse Nursing – What To Expect When Working In This Specialty

March 26, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Australian student Dominic Riga on placement with Gap Medics Despite the numerous stringent measures that have been put in place to curb addiction, it unfortunately continues to be a huge burden not just for families but also for the nation as a whole. Successfully rehabilitating an addict may involve outpatient or inpatient treatment depending on various factors. Whatever the form of treatment, a substance abuse nurse plays a vital role in this process. These highly trained nurses offer much-needed support and advice that can help addicts find their way to sobriety and lead a healthier life.

If you are considering a career as a substance abuse nurse, here are some things that you should expect from the profession:

It’s Stressful Work But The Job Satisfaction Can Be Tremendous

Working with individuals across all ages while they are going through some of the most painful and most difficult phases in their life can be extremely stressful. To be able to cope with the rollercoaster ride that is a hallmark of this specialty, you must be emotionally strong and be able to balance compassion and empathy with tough love and objective advice. It’s not an easy task but is crucial for successful rehabilitation.

On the flip side, the life of a substance abuse nurse is also very rewarding. People who suffer from substance abuse need someone who is patient, compassionate and strong to help them quit their addiction and get their lives back on track. Every successful rehabilitation is a victory for you. Knowing that you have helped somebody kick their addiction and regain their life can be immensely satisfying.

You Get To Work with People Across Diverse Demographics

Substance abuse nurses work with individuals across all age groups from all corners of the world who are suffering from different kinds of addictions. Statistics indicate that people between the ages of 25 and 30 constitute the highest percentage of admissions for treatment, followed by those aged between 20 and 24. 40 to 44 year olds are the third highest category.

Steel Yourself For A Tough Road Ahead

The rehabilitation process is long and arduous, requiring immense patience and perseverance. As a nurse in this specialty, in addition to being unstintingly supportive, you also need to be able to handle all the side effects that come with rehabilitation. You will need to patiently but firmly guide your patients through the initial stages of insomnia, nausea and other withdrawal symptoms and make sure that they do not give up. Knowledge of natural remedies such as yoga and art therapy can help you help your patients cope better with the side effects of rehabilitation.

Offer Support & Guidance To The Addict’s Family

When you work as a substance abuse nurse your interaction will not be limited only to the patient. A patient’s family forms an integral part of the rehabilitation process. Unfortunately, many families find it hard to be supportive and they do not always know what to do in order to help their loved one kick their addiction. It is up to you to guide the family through this difficult time and help them cope with the situation.

Be Prepared For Some Of Your Patients To Relapse

When you get into this field, it is crucial to realise that you cannot cure every single addict that seeks your help. Disturbing studies show that about 40 % to 60 addicts relapse and go back to their former habits despite all measures. Despite these high figures, it is still absolutely essential to stay hopeful and positive and never give up on trying to help your patients in the hope that one day your help and support will help them eventually kick the habit for good.