• Brian D. Hinson

The Meth-Addicted Nurse

In the hotel parking lot waited a woman and a man and a few children. The woman had a tablet and the man looked angry. It was the woman who got in, and the rest headed back to the hotel, which was a one step up from seedy.

Sarah (not using real names, btw) got in and said she was two hours late for work. I looked at the estimated time to our destination and told her that it would be two and a half by the time we arrived. She shook her head and mumbled something about her husband and drugs.

I mentioned I knew plenty of people that have struggled with addiction to heroin, cocaine, and meth.

Sarah opened up. This happens to Uber drivers, sometimes, and it happened twice last night. The other incident may merit a different blog. But a passenger sometimes feels they need to unload or confess to a stranger, a stranger who knows no one in their circle, a stranger they will never see ever again.

She told me that both her and her husband are addicted to meth. She has no ability to work or generally function without it. There was no evidence that she was currently on drugs, but she certainly was. Meth isn’t the kind of thing you can casually spot in a user unless someone was over-doing it, was sleep-deprived, or was coming off of it. Sarah carried this conversation as anyone would. Without her confession, I would have suspected nothing.

Sarah’s nursing job earns her thirty-eight dollars an hour. That’s good cash but she has no car, no house, and lives in a second-rate hotel with her husband and four children. The money is funneled into the habit and to feeding her children. He husband has no job, but he looks after the kids. She told me that she has adult ADD, and that the meth helps even her out, like Adderall or Ritalin might be prescribed. Her ADD brain chemistry is part of her addiction equation.

I dropped her off and she was worried about how pissed her manager would be. Sarah said she wouldn’t be fired because she often picked up shifts when other nurses called off. I didn’t see her as a danger to her patients. Like I mentioned, I never would have known about the extra chemistry she added to her body.

Once I got home, I found an important statistic: “According to Journal of Clinical Nursing, approximately 20 percent of all nurses struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.”

One out of five? Consider me truly shocked.

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