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Honoring nurses and recognizing their struggle for National Nurses Week

Nick Goldberg

Authored by Nick Goldberg

The importance of National Nurses Week

Nurses are the lifeblood of healthcare, crucially involved in all forms of treatment, as they carry out some of the most difficult and heartbreaking medical measures. In 1974, to honor nurses and to spotlight their working conditions, the International Council of Nurses inaugurated National Nurses Day on May 12. The choice of date is significant, marking the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a pathbreaking figure widely considered the founder of modern nursing. Within a few years, the observance expanded to a week-long celebration, officially becoming National Nurses Week in 1994. Every year since then, beginning on May 6 and continuing through May 12, we commemorate the heroic efforts of the nation’s over four million nurses.

If you would like to pay tribute to the accomplishments and sacrifices of nurses in furthering the health of us all, there are a number of ways to participate:

  • Social media. Highlighting the event on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, using the hashtag #nursesweek, is an easy way to raise its profile.
  • Gifts ideas. Give thanks to the nurses in your life through any number of thoughtful gifts, such as a meal, massage, cards, balloons or flowers.
  • Donate blood. If you’re eligible, donating blood is a great way to provide the medical system with this essential resource.
  • Public displays. You could join forces with public spaces around your town, like libraries and schools, to create displays celebrating the many contributions of nurses.

The problem of substance abuse among nurses

As we honor nurses, we also need to recognize the immense pressure and risk factors they face on the job. According to a study published in the Journal of Nursing Regulation, 18% of nurses showed signs of substance use problems, while 6.6% indicated a positive screening for substance use disorder.

Indeed, the professional stress factors for nurses are varied and persistent, including:

  • Excessive hours
  • Rotating shifts
  • Overtime and night work
  • Staffing shortages
  • Poor organization and communication
  • Insufficient resources
  • Exposure to infection
  • High volume of patients
  • Unmanageable administrative work
  • Dysfunctional relationships among staff
  • Dealing with death
  • Physical and psychological abuse  

The toll this takes can strain anyone’s capacity to cope. And the negative consequences of substance abuse for nurses affect not only the nurses themselves but also their patients, colleagues and families.

Regrettably, many nurses don’t seek the help they need and deserve, largely out of fear of stigma, shame, punishment and loss. But the consequences of avoiding the problem can be far worse, leading to incarceration and death, as a number of nurses attest to the fate of colleagues.

It doesn’t have to be this way, nor should it.

Recovery Centers of America is here to help the helpers  

Help is available and recovery is within reach. We at Recovery Centers of America provide proven addiction treatment through our world-class facilities. Our expert and compassionate staff cover the full continuum of care:

Beyond this, we also offer a suite of specialized inpatient addiction treatment, two of which address the professional stressors of nurses struggling with substance use:

  • Frontline is a confidential inpatient addiction treatment program designed specifically for the unique treatment and recovery needs of medical and behavioral health professionals. Sensitive to the full range of workplace risk factors from burnout and fatigue, to grief and loss, and long- and short-term trauma, among others, Frontline helps nurses heal and learn to cope and flourish moving forward. Enlisting evidence-based therapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, positive psychology and trauma-informed care, Frontline is a comprehensive rehabilitation program, allowing its participants to process past pain and build a stronger sense of self.
  • RESCU is a related program designed for first responders, who deal with some similar work-related stress factors, such as a high pressure environment, traumatic events, challenges with long and rotating shifts, and threats to their physical and mental well-being, along with the guilt and fear attached to their struggles with substance use disorder. At Recovery Centers of America at Indianapolis, there is a dedicated segment for nurses, ensuring they receive the highest level of care for their particular problems.    

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs or alcohol, call now 1-800-RECOVERY. We offer 24/7 admissions, transportation and intervention services.  

Authored by

Nick Goldberg

Nick Goldberg

As a healthcare writer for RCA and a recovery advocate, Nick Goldberg covers all aspects of addiction and treatment. Nick holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.
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