May had been waiting for that day to come, finally she is a Registered Nurse. She has imagined how that moment would be for hundreds of times, however, nothing can ever compare to the joy that she’s experiencing.
Months after that moment, she finds herself staring at a list of nursing specialties.
“Hmm, I didn’t know nursing offers this much. There’s a lot to choose from,” she says to herself, contemplating which specialization to pursue until one specialization catches her attention.
“Addiction nursing? Is there even such a thing?” she asks, both intrigued and curious about what the specialization brings. Maybe, this deserves a shot, she tells herself making a mental note to research more about it later on.
What are addiction nurses?
Addiction nursing is a specialty that mixes strong medical/surgical and mental-behavioral health nursing along with knowledge of addictive diseases and treatment modalities to optimize patient care and recovery outcomes.This training in both medicine and mental health allows nurses to to approach both sides of the issue.
In other words, this specialization is for nurses who are committed to the prevention, intervention, treatment, and management of addictive disorders such as alcohol and other drug dependencies, nicotine dependencies, eating disorders, dual and multiple diagnoses, and process addictions such as gambling.
Duties of addiction nurses may vary, but most are responsible for teaching their patients about the risks of substance abuse and the options for overcoming addiction. They also offer support to people who may feel like their addiction is the only valuable thing in their life, in addition to offering support to the family members of the patient.
Also, these nurses may work directly with a patient who needs help with pain management and with patients who are detoxing. Otherwise, they may spend their time organizing or leading support groups for addicts or their family members. Some addiction nurses even become abuse counselors or advanced psychiatric nurses.
Once an addiction nurse, you may work in a variety of work areas such as mental health clinics, psychiatric wards, treatment centers or hospitals. There are also those who may work with outpatients, while others will work with patients who have been institutionalized.
How to become one
For one to become an addiction nurse, you must first acquire a degree in either ASN (Associate of Science in Nursing) or a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) then pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses), where you may be able to get a job working with patients who suffer from addictions. However, if you truly want to advance in this field, they should become a CARN (Certified Addictions Registered Nurse).
After getting at least 4,000 hours, or three years-worth of work as an RN, you can apply to take the Substance Abuse Certification exam, which is offered by the International Nurses Society on Addictions. RNs who are interested in working with substance addicted patients need to work for two years prior to taking the exam. After passing the exam, you now earn the designation of CARN (Certified Addiction Registered Nurse).