Nurse Jackie, Substance Abuse and Addictions

Substance abuse and addictions are common problems faced by people each day. The destruction of the life of the addicted, as well as family, friends and loved ones can be irreparable, causing financial difficulties as well as interrupting social bonds and causing damage to relationships. The typical addiction, if there is such thing as a typical addiction, revolves around the consumption of alcohol or street drugs. These addictions are often portrayed on television shows where a family member or friend gets caught up in an addiction, is sent to rehab, and subsequently cured of the problem. However, in the world of nursing and medicine, many times, easy access to prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals can be irresistible, even for healthcare providers like nurses and physicians.

The stigma of addiction is hard to face, no matter the person it affects. Unfortunately, for nurses that experience substance abuse problems, not only is the addiction an issue, but there is a loss of faith and trust in the nurse as he or she goes through the process of recovery from addiction. Many times, nurses that abuse medications are not only jeopardizing their own health, but, also the wellbeing of patients under the nurse’s care. In Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” the issue of addiction runs throughout the show’s episodes.  Nurse Jackie manages to maintain the secrecy of her addiction, but is eventually discovered and has to face the repercussions of her addiction. A nurse with an addiction is not an uncommon problem, and there are many states that offer programs to nurses wishing to recover from addiction, with the hopes of maintaining a career in nursing.


While addictions can affect people in all career fields, it may seem exceptional that a nurse or medical professional defies the very advice given to patients when it comes to drugs or alcohol. As happens in real life, Nurse Jackie admitted her drug abuse problem and began her recovery in rehab, with the hopes of finding better coping mechanisms than popping pills or downing vials of drugs. Addiction can be a problem in all areas of medicine, from nurses and physicians to the student pursuing a degree in nursing. Understanding and offering support to these individuals can be a helpful way to curtail the problem of addictions in the healthcare industry.