Substance Abuse: The Leading National Health Problem

Substance abuse is the leading national health problem, causing more deaths, illnesses, and disabilities than any other health condition (p.416).

There are many factors leading to the current opioid epidemic. Predisposing and contributing factors that lead to substance abuse are the substances that are being used, the set, and the setting. When we are treating patients, it is important for the healthcare providers to consider all three factors, and the patterns of the individuals drug abuse.

Substances include alcohol, tobacco, legal drugs, as well as foods and substances. Some strategies that a nurse might use to address the issue are providing patients with therapeutic techniques, being supportive, providing them with safety, and educate the patients on the effects of drugs. The book stated, “”many people with alcoholism and drug addiction become lost in the health care system (p.429). Because of this, it is important for nurses to follow proper protocol and screenings in order to ensure that these patients don’t go untreated and have the best optimal care. It is also important for nurses to use the resources available to teach themselves about the drugs and how to treat the patient. It is also important for nurses to not be judgmental towards these patients. By provided a therapeutic relationship with the patient, they may be more open to expressing their drug abuse history.

When the nurse builds a relationship with the patient, they can achieve the patients needs. Another factor a nurse has to consider when helping these individuals is the patients’ willingness to quit the drug and change their patterns. Depending on the individual’s stage of readiness, health professionals can determine the interventions and programs that will be most effective for the patient. The different stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Once the patient has undergone treatment, nurses can then use proper aftercare support and follow ups.

Not only can the nurse support the patient, but also the families as they go through role changes and stress involved in the recovery. Often times, drug addiction is not just an individual problem, rather it becomes the whole families problem. Nurses also have to be aware of the fact that these patients are at a potential risk for relapsing. If this occurs, it is a nurses job to rid any judgment and support the patient by “”reminding them that relapses may well occur but that they and their families can continue to work toward recovery and an improved quality of life (p.430).

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