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Substance Use Among Nurses and Nursing Students: A Joint Position Statement of the Emergency Nurses Association and the International Nurses Society on Addictions

Strobbe, Stephen PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CARN-AP, FIAAN; Crowley, Melanie MSN, RN, CEN

doi: 10.1097/JAN.0000000000000150
Feature Columns: Position Statement

Alcohol and other substance use by nurses potentially places patients, the public, and nurses themselves at risk for serious injury or death. Nursing students are also at risk for problems related to substance use. When viewed and treated as a chronic medical illness, treatment outcomes for substance use disorders are comparable with those of other diseases and can result in lasting benefits. Professional monitoring programs that employ an alternative-to-discipline approach have been shown to be effective in the treatment of health professionals with substance use disorders and are considered a standard for recovery, with high rates of completion and return to practice. It is the position of the Emergency Nurses Association and the International Nurses Society on Addictions that 1. health care facilities provide education to nurses and other employees regarding alcohol and other drug use and establish policies, procedures, and practices to promote safe, supportive, drug-free workplaces; 2. health care facilities and schools of nursing adopt alternative-to-discipline approaches to treating nurses and nursing students with substance use disorders, with stated goals of retention, rehabilitation, and reentry into safe, professional practice; 3. drug diversion, in the context of personal use, is viewed primarily as a symptom of a serious and treatable disease and not exclusively as a crime; and 4. nurses and nursing students are aware of the risks associated with substance use, impaired practice, and drug diversion and have the responsibility and means to report suspected or actual concerns.

Stephen Strobbe, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CARN-AP, FIAAN, University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.

Melanie Crowley, MSN, RN, CEN, Emergency Nurses Association.

Dr. Stephen Strobbe is a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatry. He is board certified both in psychiatric and addictions nursing. His professional background has included clinical care, research, administration, and education. He has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and other works related to substance use and addictions nursing. He has been an invited speaker both nationally and internationally. In 2015, Professor Strobbe received the 25th Annual Golden Apple Award at the University of Michigan. In 2016, he was elected to a 2-year term as President of the International Nurses Society on Addictions.

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the article.

This position statement, including the information and recommendations set forth herein, reflects ENA’s and IntNSA’s current position with respect to the subject matter discussed herein based on current knowledge at the time of publication. This position statement is only current as of its publication date, and is subject to change without notice as new information and advances emerge. The positions, information and recommendations discussed herein are not codified into law or regulations. In addition, variations in practice, which take into account the needs of the individual patient and the resources and limitations unique to the institution, may warrant approaches, treatments and/or procedures that differ from the recommendations outlined in this position statement. Therefore, this position statement should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of management, treatment or care, nor does adherence to this position statement guarantee a particular outcome. ENA’s position statements are never intended to replace a practitioner’s best nursing judgment based on the clinical circumstances of a particular patient or patient population. Position statements are published by ENA for educational and informational purposes only, and ENA does not “approve” or “endorse” any specific sources of information referenced herein. ENA assumes no liability for any injury and/or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to the use of or reliance on any position statement.

Copyright © 2017 International Nursing Society on Addictions. “Substance Use Among Nurses and Nursing Students” is jointly published by the Emergency Nurses Association, the Journal of Emergency Nursing published by Elsevier, Inc. and the International Nurses Society on Addictions, the Journal of Addictions Nursing, published by Wolters Kluwer. All rights reserved.

Correspondence related to content to: Stephen Strobbe, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CARN-AP, FIAAN, University of Michigan School of Nursing, 426 N. Ingalls Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail:

© 2017International Nurses Society on Addictions
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