Substance abuse nurses provide appropriate and effective care for persons with mental illness, substance use disorders, and those at risk for these conditions.
Drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society. Almost 20 million Americans 12 years and older are current users of illicit drugs and roughly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs.
Substance abuse nurses encounter persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders or those at risk for these conditions in a variety of settings, especially in primary care. They can work in private facilities, mental health clinics, psychiatric wards, hospitals and inpatient or outpatient treatment center.
Substance abuse nurse applies knowledge of signs and symptoms of common psychiatric syndromes in observing, assessing, and planning nursing care, including: psychosis, depression, suicidal behavior, rage, aggression, substance use, dependence, alcohol intoxication, poisoning, acute substance ingestion or withdrawal, side effects or adverse effects of psychotropic medications, drug interactions, psychiatric side effects or adverse effects of medications used to treat physical conditions.
To become a substance abuse nurse, one must first become a licensed registered nurse.