|Advanced Nursing 2021|
A substance abuse nurse, sometimes referred to as an addiction nurse, specializes in the treatment of patients addicted to drugs, alcohol or other substances. Substance abuse nurses are trained in mental health in addition to general medicine. They provide pain management, education for patients and caregivers about the dangers of substance abuse and emotional support to patients in crisis.
As with other nursing careers, the first step in becoming a substance abuse nurse is to complete an Associate's Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree to gain a general nursing education. For aspiring addiction nurses, elective courses in mental health will be particularly important. Once a nurse has completed schooling, they must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. From there, an RN may begin work as a substance abuse nurse. Once a nurse has completed 2,000 hours of professional nursing experience in the substance abuse sector and 30 hours of continuing education related to addictions nursing within the last three years, he or she may sit for the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) certification exam offered by the International Nurses Society on Addictions. While not required for all substance abuse nursing positions, the CARN certification communicates a nurse's commitment to substance abuse nursing to prospective employers.
A typical job posting for a substance abuse nurse position would likely include the following qualifications, among others specific to the type of employer and location:
- ADN or BSN degree and valid RN license
- Ability to make safe judgment calls in patient care
- Strong communication skills for educating patients and their families about the dangers of substance abuse and their treatment options
- Proficiency in computer programs and data entry for maintaining patient records
- Experience in mental health and/or addiction preferred
- Caring and professional demeanor with compassion for patients struggling with addiction
Substance abuse nurses are generally required to have completed an ADN or BSN degree and to hold a valid RN license in the state in which they plan to practice. A higher nursing degree is usually not required, but elective courses in mental health and addiction are critical for nurses interested in pursuing a career in substance abuse nursing.
While not required for most substance abuse nursing positions, RNs who wish to specialize in addiction nursing may consider becoming a Certified Addiction Registered Nurse. The International Nurses Society on Addictions sponsors this exam, which is open to RNs who have completed 2,000 hours of professional experience in substance abuse nursing and 30 hours of continuing education related to addictions nursing within the last three years. This certification offers RNs a competitive edge when seeking employment or advancement as a substance abuse nurse.
Substance abuse nurses work with patients and their families in a variety of settings, including:
- Mental health clinics
- Psychiatric wards in hospitals
- Inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities
nurse provides direct patient care to individuals struggling with substance
abuse and addiction. They assist physicians in developing treatment plans,
perform patient assessments, monitor a patient's progress and administer
medications and pain management services. An important aspect of substance
health and emotional support services. Substance abuse
nurses often conduct mental health
screenings and provide emotional support for patients and their families during
treatment. They also educate patients and their loved ones about the dangers of
substance abuse and provide resources and information about the various
treatment options for addiction.
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