Nursing is a stressful profession not for the faint of heart. Between grueling 12-hour shifts and continuing education requirements to maintain your license, your nursing profession requires that you constantly recommit yourself.
Working a demanding and stressful job can put strain on other areas of your life, including your relationships and your self-care practices. Some nurses develop substance abuse problems as they use alcohol to self-medicate for depression or in response to a recent divorce. Others might use alcohol to help them sleep or cope with back pain and joint issues caused by long shifts and demanding tasks associated with patient care.
Frequently using alcohol might eventually affect a nurse’s job performance or their licensing.
There is no such thing as a functional alcoholic in a medical setting
When people talk about functional alcoholics, they refer to people capable of fulfilling all of their usual obligations while under the influence. Store clerks, teachers or custodial professionals could all potentially do their jobs while consuming alcohol.
While they may not do the best job possible, they won’t necessarily put others at risk or lose their jobs because of poor performance. However, if nurses come to work while under the influence of alcohol or hungover from a long night of drinking, they could do a poor job of providing care for their patients. They could make simple mistakes, get easily distracted and otherwise compromise the standard of care that they provide.
Co-workers and patients alike could make complaints either to a nurse’s employer or to the state licensing board if alcohol use starts to affect their work.
Criminal charges and complaints can affect your professional future
If someone that you work with reports you for drinking on the job, you could easily face a disciplinary hearing. The same could be true if you get arrested for impaired driving or other criminal offenses related to substance abuse.
Thankfully, provided that you acknowledge the issue, fight your charges and seek treatment, you may be able to defend your license and continue your profession even after facing complaints or criminal charges related to your alcohol use. Understanding what might endanger your nursing license can help you protect the investment you have already made in your career.