In the know: Be prepared with answers for addicts

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, August 18, 2009

Taking care of patients with addictive behaviors can be difficult. Whether the patient has a problem with alcohol, drugs, or another type of addiction, a patient who is addicted can be quite persuasive in their arguments. They might try to pin you down, often turning the conversation around to you rather than dealing with the addictive behavior. As a nurse, you need to know how to avoid common pitfalls.

Having a pat answer to some of your patients reasoning can help. For example:

  • "I need alcohol to block my emotional pain."

Don't panic. Say "Blocking emotional pain does not work. You are not alone. Everyone has emotional pain of some sort, and everyone needs to learn how to deal with it."

  • "I can't handle frustration and pain."

Don't panic. Say "Handling frustration and pain can be learned. Developing a tolerance to frustration grows as you work with it."

For more examples and information on dealing with difficult patients, read Stressed Out About Difficult Patients, published by HCPro.


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