The journey of nurse addiction comes as a surprise for most who experience it. This phenomenological qualitative study demonstrates that most nurses who become addicted never imagined addiction would happen to them, even if they have a strong family history of the disease! In this study, 14 nurse addicts in recovery were interviewed about their experiences and risk perceptions. Five themes were identified from the study: (a) Fear was a significant part of the experience of being a nurse who was addicted; (b) Shame and guilt were felt by nurses who were addicted; (c) Poor coping: Addicted nurses reported having underdeveloped coping skills; (d) Control: Addicted nurses felt an increased need to control their environments; and (e) A core problem inherent in nurses who were addicted was a belief that addiction would never happen to them. Discussion of the five identified themes is followed by a discussion about addiction risk, prevention, and suggestions for application in nursing education. Participants discussed their experience with nurse addiction in their nursing education experiences and offered suggestions for more effective ways to teach the subject in nursing school.
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