Substance abuse is a serious concern in the profession of nursing. The American Nurses Association (1997) estimates that 10% to 20% of nurses have substance abuse problems, and that 6% to 8% of registered nurses are impaired due to their abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
Chemical dependency is considered a disease that requires treatment. Early identification and treatment of the chemically dependent nurse is important for the safety of the public and for the well-being of the nurse and her profession. This article addresses substance abuse from a biopsychosocial perspective, and includes a description of an approach to treatment and suggestions for the role of nursing administration.