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Mental Health and Psychiatric

8 Substance Dependence and Abuse Nursing Care Plans

Drug abuse and drug dependence represent different ends of the same disease process.

Drug abuse is an intense desire to use increasing amounts of a particular substance or substances to the exclusion of other activities.

Drug dependence is the body’s physical need, or addiction, to a specific agent. There is therefore virtually no difference between dependency and addiction. Over the long term, this dependence results in physical harm, behavior problems, and association with people who also abuse drugs. Stopping the use of the drug can result in a specific withdrawal syndrome.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care plan goals for patients who abuse substances includes providing support for decision to stop substance use, strengthen individual coping skills, facilitate learning of new ways to reduce anxiety, promote family involvement in rehabilitation program, facilitate family growth and development, and provide information about the prognosis and treatment needs.

Below are 8 substance dependence and abuse nursing care plans:

1. Denial

May be related to

  • – Personal vulnerability; difficulty handling new situations
  • – Previous ineffective/inadequate coping skills with substitution of drug(s)
  • – Learned response patterns; cultural factors, personal/family value systems

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Delay in seeking, or refusal of healthcare attention to the detriment of health/life
  • – Does not perceive personal relevance of symptoms or danger, or admit impact of condition on life pattern; projection of blame/responsibility for problems
  • – Use of manipulation to avoid responsibility for self

Desired Outcomes

  • – Verbalize awareness of relationship of substance abuse to current situation.
  • – Engage in therapeutic program.
  • – Verbalize acceptance of responsibility for own behavior.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleAscertain by what name patient would like to be addressed.Shows courtesy and respect, giving patient a sense of orientation and control.Convey attitude of acceptance, separating individual from unacceptable behavior.Promotes feelings of dignity and self-worth.Ascertain reason for beginning abstinence, involvement in therapy.Provides insight into patient’s willingness to commit to long-term behavioral change, and whether patient even believes that he or she can change. (Denial is one of the strongest and most resistant symptoms of substance abuse.)Review definition of drug dependence and categories of symptoms (patterns of use, impairment caused by use, tolerance to substance).This information helps patient make decisions regarding acceptance of problem and treatment choices.Answer questions honestly and provide factual information. Keep your word when agreements are made.Creates trust, which is the basis of the therapeutic relationship.Provide information about addictive use versus experimental, occasional use; biochemical or genetic disorder theory (genetic predisposition; use activated by environment; compulsive desire.)Progression of use continuum is from experimental or recreational to addictive use. Comprehending this process is important in combating denial. Education may relieve patient’s guilt and blame and may help awareness of recurring addictive characteristics.Discuss current life situation and impact of substance use.First step in decreasing use of denial is for patient to see the relationship between substance use and personal problems.Confront and examine denial and rationalization in peer group. Use confrontation with caring.Because denial is the major defense mechanism in addictive disease, confrontation by peers can help the patient accept the reality of adverse consequences of behaviors and that drug use is a major problem. Caring attitude preserves self-concept and helps decrease defensive response.Provide information regarding effects of addiction on mood and personality.Individuals often mistake effects of addiction and use this to justify or excuse drug use.Remain nonjudgmental. Be alert to changes in behavior, (restlessness, increased tension).Confrontation can lead to increased agitation, which may compromise safety of patient and staff.Provide positive feedback for expressing awareness of denial in self and others.Necessary to enhance self-esteem and to reinforce insight into behavior.Maintain firm expectation that patient attend recovery support and therapy groups regularly.Attendance is related to admitting need for help, to working with denial, and for maintenance of a long-term drug-free existence.Encourage and support patient’s taking responsibility for own recovery (development of alternative behaviors to drug urge and use). Assist patient to learn own responsibility for recovering.Denial can be replaced with positive action when patient accepts the reality of own responsibility.Encourage family members to seek help whether or not the abuser seeks it.To assist the patient deal appropriately with the situation.

2. Ineffective Individual Coping

Ineffective Individual Coping: Inability to form a valid appraisal of the stressors, inadequate choices of practiced responses, and/or inability to use available resources.

May be related to

  • – Personal vulnerability
  • – Negative role modeling; inadequate support systems
  • – Previous ineffective/inadequate coping skills with substitution of drug(s)

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Impaired adaptive behavior and problem-solving skills
  • – Decreased ability to handle stress of illness/hospitalization
  • – Financial affairs in disarray, employment difficulties (e.g., losing time on job/not maintaining steady employment; poor work performances, on-the-job injuries)
  • – Verbalization of inability to cope/ask for help

Desired Outcomes

  • – Identify ineffective coping behaviors/consequences, including use of substances as a method of coping.
  • – Use effective coping skills/problem solving.
  • – Initiate necessary lifestyle changes.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleReview program rules, philosophy expectations.Having information provides opportunity for patient to cooperate and function as a member of the group or milieu, enhancing sense of control and sense of success.Determine understanding of current situation, previous, and other methods of coping with life’s problems.Provides information about degree of denial, acceptance of personal responsibility and commitment to change; identifies coping skills that may be used in present situation.Set limits and confront efforts to get caregiver to grant special privileges, making excuses for not following through on behaviors agreed on, and attempting to continue drug use.Patient has learned manipulative behavior throughout life and needs to learn a new way of getting needs met. Following through on consequences of failure to maintain limits can help the patient to change ineffective behaviors.Be aware of staff attitudes, feelings, and enabling behaviors.Lack of understanding, judgmental or enabling behaviors can result in inaccurate data collection and non-therapeutic approaches.Encourage verbalization of feelings, fears, and anxiety.May help patient begin to come to terms with long-unresolved issues.Based on standard hospital policy, institute appropriate measures.To avoid suicide attemptsExplore alternative coping strategies.Patient may have little or no knowledge of adaptive responses to stress and needs to learn other options for managing time, feelings, and relationships without drugs.Assist patient to learn and encourage use of relaxation skills, guided imagery, visualizations.Helps patient relax, develop new ways to deal with stress, problem-solve.Structure diversional activity that relates to recovery (social activity within support group), wherein issues of being chemically free are examined.Discovery of alternative methods of coping with drug hunger can remind patient that addiction is a lifelong process and opportunity for changing patterns is available.Use peer support to examine ways of coping with drug hunger.Self-help groups are valuable for learning and promoting abstinence in each member, using understanding and support as well as peer pressure.Use peer support to examine ways of coping with drug binges.Self-help groups are valuable for learning and promoting abstinence in each member, using understanding, support, and peer pressure.Encourage involvement in therapeutic writing. Have patient begin journaling or writing autobiography.Therapeutic writing or journaling can enhance participation in treatment; serves as a release for grief, anger, and stress; provides a useful tool for monitoring patient’s safety; and can be used to evaluate patient’s progress. Autobiographical activity provides an opportunity for patient to remember and identify sequence of events in his or her life that relate to current situation.Discuss patient’s plans for living without drugsProvide opportunity to develop and refine plans. Devising a comprehensive strategy for avoiding relapses helps patient into maintenance phase of behavioral change.Administer medications as indicated:

  • – Disulfiram (Antabuse)

This drug can be helpful in maintaining abstinence from alcohol while other therapy is undertaken. By inhibiting alcohol oxidation, the drug leads to an accumulation of acetaldehyde with a highly unpleasant reaction if alcohol is consumed.

  • – Acamprosate

Helps prevent relapses in alcoholism by lowering receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. This agent may become drug of choice because it does not make the user sick if alcohol is consumed; it has no sedative, antianxiety, muscle relaxant, or antidepressant properties and produces no withdrawal symptoms.Methadone (Dolophine);This drug is thought to blunt the craving or diminish the effects of opioids and is used to assist in withdrawal and long-term maintenance programs. It can allow the individual to maintain daily activities and ultimately withdraw from drug use.

  • – Naltrexone (Trexan), nalmefene (Revex).

Used to suppress craving for opioids and may help prevent relapse in the patient abusing alcohol. Current research suggests that naltrexone suppresses urge to continue drinking by interfering with alcohol-induced release of endorphins.Encourage involvement with self-help associations ( Alcoholics, Narcotics Anonymous).Puts patient in direct contact with support system necessary for managing sobriety and drug-free life.Maintain a quiet, safe environment during withdrawal from any drug.Excessive noise may agitate the patient.Remove harmful objects from the patient’s room.To prevent the patient from harmUse restraints ONLY if you think the patient may harm himself or herself and others.To promote safetyProvide safe, non threatening environment.Encourages patient to talk freely without fear of judgment.

3. Powerlessness

Powerlessness: The lived experience of lack of control over a situation, including a perception that one’s actions do not significantly affect an outcome.

May be related to

  • – Substance addiction with/without periods of abstinence
  • – Episodic compulsive indulgence; attempts at recovery
  • – Lifestyle of helplessness

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Ineffective recovery attempts; statements of inability to stop behavior/requests for help
  • – Continuous/constant thinking about drug and/or obtaining drug
  • – Alteration in personal, occupational, and social life

Desired Outcomes

  • – Admit inability to control drug habit, surrender to powerlessness over addiction.
  • – Verbalize acceptance of need for treatment and awareness that willpower alone cannot control abstinence.
  • – Engage in peer support.
  • – Demonstrate active participation in program.
  • – Regain and maintain healthy state with a drug-free lifestyle.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleUse crisis intervention techniques to initiate behavior changes:Patient is more amenable to acceptance of need for treatment at this time.Assist patient to recognize problem exists. Discuss in a caring, nonjudgmental manner how drug has interfered with life;In the precontemplation phase, the patient has not yet identified that drug use is problematic. While patient is hurting, it is easier to admit substance use has created negative consequences.Involve patient in development of treatment plan, using problem-solving process in which patient identifies goals for change and agrees to desired outcomes;During the contemplation phase, the patient realizes a problem exists and is thinking about a change of behavior. The patient is committed to the outcomes when the decision-making process involves solutions that are promulgated by the individual.Discuss alternative solutions;Brainstorming helps creatively identify possibilities and provides sense of control. During the preparation phase, minor action may be taken as individual organizes resources for definitive change.Assist in selecting most appropriate alternative;As possibilities are discussed, the most useful solution becomes clear.Support decision and implementation of selected alternative(s).Helps the patient persevere in process of change. During the action phase, the patient engages in a sustained effort to maintain sobriety, and mechanisms are put in place to support abstinence.Explore support in peer group. Encourage sharing about drug hunger, situations that increase the desire to indulge, ways that substance has influenced life.Patient may need assistance in expressing self, speaking about powerlessness, admitting need for help in order to face up to problem and begin resolution.Assist patient to learn ways to enhance health and structure healthy diversion from drug use (maintaining a balanced diet, getting adequate rest, exercise [walking, slow or long distance running]; and acupuncture, biofeedback, deep meditative techniques).Learning to empower self in constructive areas can strengthen ability to continue recovery. These activities help restore natural biochemical balance, aid detoxification, and manage stress, anxiety, use of free time. These diversions can increase self-confidence, thereby improving self-esteem.Note: Exercise promotes release of endorphins, creating a feeling of well-being.Provide information regarding understanding of human behavior and interactions with others (transactional analysis).Understanding these concepts can help the patient to begin to deal with past problems or losses and prevent repeating ineffective coping behaviors and self-fulfilling prophecies.Assist patient in self-examination of spirituality, faith.Although not mandatory for recovery, surrendering to and faith in a power greater than oneself has been found to be effective for many individuals in substance recovery; may decrease sense of powerlessness.Instruct in and role-play assertive communication skills.Effective in helping refrain from use, to stop contact with users and dealers, to build healthy relationships, regain control of own life.Provide treatment information on an ongoing basis.Helps patient know what to expect, and creates opportunity for patient to be a part of what is happening and make informed choices about participation and outcomes.

4. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements

Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements: Intake of nutrients insufficient to meet metabolic needs.

May be related to

  • – Insufficient dietary intake to meet metabolic needs for psychological, physiological, or economic reasons

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Weight loss; weight below norm for height/body build; decreased subcutaneous fat/muscle mass
  • – Reported altered taste sensation; lack of interest in food
  • – Poor muscle tone
  • – Sore, inflamed buccal cavity
  • – Laboratory evidence of protein/vitamin deficiencies

Desired Outcomes

  • – Demonstrate progressive weight gain toward goal with normalization of laboratory values and absence of signs of malnutrition.
  • – Verbalize understanding of effects of substance abuse, reduced dietary intake on nutritional status.
  • – Demonstrate behaviors, lifestyle changes to regain and maintain appropriate weight.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleMonitor the patient’s nutritional intake.To promote adequate nutritionAssess height and weight, age, body build, strength, activity and rest level. Note condition of oral cavity.Provides information about individual on which to base caloric needs and dietary plan. Type of diet or foods may be affected by condition of mucous membranes and teeth.Take anthropometric measurements (triceps skinfold, when available).Calculates subcutaneous fat and muscle mass to aid in determining dietary needs.Note total daily calorie intake; maintain a diary of intake, as well as times and patterns of eating.Information will help identify nutritional needs and deficiencies.Evaluate energy expenditure (pacing or sedentary), and establish an individualized exercise program.Activity level affects nutritional needs. Exercise enhances muscle tone, may stimulate appetite.Provide opportunity to choose foods and snacks to meet dietary plan.Enhances participation or sense of control, may promote resolution of nutritional deficiencies, and helps evaluate patient’s understanding of dietary teaching.Recommend monitoring weight weekly.Provides information regarding effectiveness of dietary plan.Consult with dietitian.Useful in establishing individual dietary needs and plan and provides additional resource for learning.Review laboratory studies as indicated, (glucose, serum albumin and prealbumin, electrolytes).Identifies anemias, electrolyte imbalances, and other abnormalities that may be present, requiring specific therapy.Refer for dental consultation as necessary.Teeth are essential to good nutritional intake and dental hygiene and care is often a neglected area in this population.

5. Low Self-Esteem

Situational Low Self-Esteem: Development of a negative perception of self-worth in response to current situation.

May be related to

  • – Social stigma attached to substance abuse, expectation that one controls behavior
  • – Negative role models; abuse/neglect, dysfunctional family system
  • – Life choices perpetuating failure; situational crisis with loss of control over life events
  • – Biochemical body change (e.g., withdrawal from alcohol/other drugs)

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Self-negating verbalization, expressions of shame/guilt
  • – Evaluation of self as unable to deal with events, confusion about self, purpose or direction in life
  • – Rationalizing away/rejecting positive feedback about self

Desired Outcomes

  • – Identify feelings and underlying dynamics for negative perception of self.
  • – Verbalize acceptance of self as is and an increased sense of self-worth.
  • – Set goals and participate in realistic planning for lifestyle changes necessary to live without drugs.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleProvide opportunity for and encourage verbalization and discussion of individual situation.Patient often has difficulty expressing self, even more difficulty accepting the degree of importance substance has assumed in life and its relationship to present situation.Assess mental status. Note presence of other psychiatric disorders (dual diagnosis).Many patients use substances in an attempt to obtain relief from depression or anxiety, which may predate use and be the result of substance use. Approximately 60% of substance-dependent patients have underlying psychological problems, and treatment for both is imperative to achieve and maintain abstinence.Spend time with patient. Discuss patient’s behavior and use of substance in a nonjudgmental way.The nurse’s presence conveys acceptance of the individual as a worthwhile person. Discussion provides opportunity for insight into the problems abuse has created for the patient.Provide reinforcement for positive actions and encourage patient to accept this input.Failure and lack of self-esteem have been problems for this patient, who needs to learn to accept self as an individual with positive attributes.Observe family interactions and SO dynamics and level of support.Substance abuse is a family disease, and how the members act and react to the patient’s behavior affects the course of the disease and how patient sees self. Many unconsciously become “enablers,” helping the individual to cover up the consequences of the abuse. (Refer to ND: Family Processes, altered: alcoholism, following.)Encourage expression of feelings of guilt, shame, and anger.The patient often has lost respect for self and believes that the situation is hopeless. Expression of these feelings helps the patient begin to accept responsibility for self and take steps to make changes.Help the patient acknowledge that substance use is the problem and that problems can be dealt with without the use of drugs. Confront the use of defenses (denial, projection, rationalization).When drugs can no longer be blamed for the problems that exist, the patient can begin to deal with the problems and live without substance use. Confrontation helps the patient accept the reality of the problems as they exist.Ask the patient to list and review past accomplishments and positive happenings.There are things in everyone’s life that have been successful. Often when self-esteem is low, it is difficult to remember these successes or to view them as successes.Use techniques of role rehearsal.Assists patient to practice developing skills to cope with new role as a person who no longer uses or needs drugs to handle life’s problems.Involve patient in group therapy.Group sharing helps encourage verbalization because other members of group are in various stages of abstinence from drugs and can address the patient’s concerns and denial. The patient can gain new skills, hope, and a sense of family and community from group participation.Formulate plan to treat other mental illness problems.Patients who seek relief for other mental health problems through drugs will continue to do so once discharged. Both the substance use and the mental health problems need to be treated together to maximize abstinence potential.Administer antipsychotic medications as necessary.Prolonged and profound psychosis following LSD or PCP use can be treated with these drugs because it is probably the result of an underlying functional psychosis that has now emerged. Note: Avoid the use of phenothiazines because they may decrease seizure threshold and cause hypotension in the presence of LSD or PCP use.

6. Altered Family Process

Altered Family Processes/Role Performance: A change in family relationships and/or functioning.

May be related to

  • – Abuse of substance(s); resistance to treatment
  • – Family history of substance abuse
  • – Addictive personality
  • – Inadequate coping skills, lack of problem-solving skills

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Anxiety; anger/suppressed rage; shame and embarrassment
  • – Emotional isolation/loneliness; vulnerability; repressed emotions
  • – Disturbed family dynamics; closed communication systems, ineffective spousal communication and marital problems
  • – Altered role function/disruption of family roles
  • – Manipulation; dependency; criticizing; rationalization/denial of problems
  • – Enabling to maintain drinking (substance abuse); refusal to get help/inability to accept and receive help appropriately

Desired Outcomes

  • – Verbalize understanding of dynamics of enabling behaviors.
  • – Participate in individual family programs.
  • – Identify ineffective coping behaviors and consequences.
  • – Initiate and plan for necessary lifestyle changes.
  • – Take action to change self-destructive behaviors/alter behaviors that contribute to partner’s/SO’s addiction.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleReview family history; explore roles of family members, circumstances involving drug use, strengths, areas for growth.Determines areas for focus, potential for change.Explore how the SO has coped with the patient’s habit, (denial, repression, rationalization, hurt, loneliness, projection).The person who enables also suffers from the same feelings as the patient and uses ineffective methods for dealing with the situation, necessitating help in learning new and effective coping skills.Determine understanding of current situation and previous methods of coping with life’s problems.Provides information on which to base present plan of care.Assess current level of functioning of family members.Affects individual’s ability to cope with situation.Determine extent of enabling behaviors being evidenced by family members; explore with each individual and patient.Enabling is doing for the patient what he or she needs to do for self (rescuing). People want to be helpful and do not want to feel powerless to help their loved one stop substance use and change the behavior that is so destructive. However, the substance abuser often relies on others to cover up own inability to cope with daily responsibilities.Provide information about enabling behavior, addictive disease characteristics for both user and nonuser.Awareness and knowledge of behaviors (avoiding and shielding, taking over responsibilities, rationalizing, and subserving) provide opportunity for individuals to begin the process of change.Identify and discuss sabotage behaviors of family members.Even though family member(s) may verbalize a desire for the individual to become substance-free, the reality of interactive dynamics is that they may unconsciously not want the individual to recover because this would affect the family member(s)’ own role in the relationship. Additionally, they may receive sympathy and attention from others (secondary gain).Encourage participation in therapeutic writing such as journaling (narrative), guided or focused.Serves as a release for feelings (anger, grief, stress); helps move individuals forward in treatment process.Provide factual information to patient and family about the effects of addictive behaviors on the family and what to expect after discharge.Many patients and SOs are not aware of the nature of addiction. If patient is using legally obtained drugs, he or she may believe this does not constitute abuse.Encourage family members to be aware of their own feelings, look at the situation with perspective and objectivity. They can ask themselves: “Am I being conned? Am I acting out of fear, shame, guilt, or anger? Do I have a need to control?”When the enabling family members become aware of their own actions that perpetuate the addict’s problems, they need to decide to change themselves. If they change, the patient can then face the consequences of his or her own actions and may choose to get well.Provide support for enabling partner(s). Encourage group work.Families and SOs need support to produce change as much as the person who is addicted.Assist the patient’s partner to become aware that patient’s abstinence and drug use are not the partner’s responsibility.Partners need to learn that user’s habit may or may not change despite partner’s involvement in treatment.Help the recovering (former user) partner who is enabling to distinguish between destructive aspects of behavior and genuine motivation to aid the user.Enabling behavior can be partner’s attempts at personal survival.Note how partner relates to the treatment team and staff.Determines enabling style. A parallel exists between how partner relates to user and to staff, based on partner’s feelings about self and situation.Explore conflicting feelings the enabling partner may have about treatment including the feelings similar to those of abuser (blend of anger, guilt, fear, exhaustion, embarrassment, loneliness, distrust, grief, and possibly relief).Useful in establishing the need for therapy for the partner. This individual’s own identity may have been lost, she or he may fear self-disclosure to staff, and may have difficulty giving up the dependent relationship.Involve family in discharge referral plans.Drug abuse is a family illness. Because the family has been so involved in dealing with the substance abuse behavior, family members need help adjusting to the new behavior of sobriety and abstinence. Incidence of recovery is almost doubled when the family is treated along with the patient.Be aware of staff’s enabling behaviors and feelings about patient and enabling partners.Lack of understanding of enabling can result in non-therapeutic approaches to patients and their families.Encourage involvement with self-help associations, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, and professional family therapy.Puts patient and family in direct contact with support systems necessary for continued sobriety and to assist with problem resolution.

7. Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual Dysfunction: The state in which an individual experiences, or is at risk of experiencing, a change in sexual function that is viewed as unrewarding or inadequate.

May be related to

  • – Altered body function: Neurological damage and debilitating effects of drug use (particularly alcohol and opiates)

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Progressive interference with sexual functioning
  • – In men: a significant degree of testicular atrophy is noted (testes are smaller and softer than normal); gynecomastia (breast enlargement); impotence/decreased sperm counts
  • – In women: loss of body hair, thin soft skin, and spider angioma (elevated estrogen); amenorrhea/increase in miscarriages

Desired Outcomes

  • – Verbally acknowledge effects of drug use on sexual functioning/reproduction.
  • – Identify interventions to correct/overcome individual situation.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleAscertain patient’s beliefs and expectations. Have patient describe problem in own words.Determines level of knowledge, identifies misperceptions and specific learning needs.Encourage and accept individual expressions of concern.Most people find it difficult to talk about this sensitive subject and may not ask directly for information.Provide education opportunity (pamphlets, consultation with appropriate persons) for patient to learn effects of drug on sexual functioning.Much of denial and hesitancy to seek treatment may be reduced as a result of sufficient and appropriate information.Provide information about individual’s condition.Sexual functioning may have been affected by drug (alcohol) itself or psychological factors (such as stress or depression). Information can assist patient to understand own situation and identify actions to be taken.Assess drinking and drug history of pregnant patient. Provide information about effects of substance abuse on the reproductive system and fetus ( increased risk of premature birth, brain damage, and fetal malformation).Awareness of the negative effects of alcohol and other drugs on reproduction may motivate patient to stop using drug(s). When patient is pregnant, identification of potential problems aids in planning for future fetal needs and concerns.Discuss prognosis for sexual dysfunction (impotence, low sexual desire).In about 50% of cases, impotence is reversed with abstinence from drug(s); in 25% the return to normal functioning is delayed; and approximately 25% remain impotent.Refer for sexual counseling, if indicated.Couple may need additional assistance to resolve more severe problems and situations. Patient may have difficulty adjusting if drug has improved sexual experience (heroin decreases dyspareunia in women, premature ejaculation in men). Furthermore, the patient may have engaged enjoyably in bizarre, erotic sexual behavior under influence of the stimulant drug; patient may have found no substitute for the drug, may have driven a partner away, and may have no motivation to adjust to sexual experience without drugs.Review results of sonogram if pregnant.Assesses fetal growth and development to identify possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome and future needs.

8. Deficient Knowledge

Deficient Knowledge: Absence or deficiency of cognitive information related to specific topic.

May be related to

  • – Lack of information; information misinterpretation
  • – Cognitive limitations/interference with learning (other mental illness problems/organic brain syndrome); lack of recall

Possibly evidenced by

  • – Statements of concern; questions/misconceptions
  • – Inaccurate follow-through of instructions/development of preventable complications
  • – Continued use in spite of complications/adverse consequences

Desired Outcomes

  • – Verbalize understanding of own condition/disease process, prognosis, and potential complications.
  • – Verbalize understanding of therapeutic needs.
  • – Identify/initiate necessary lifestyle changes to remain drug-free.
  • – Participate in treatment program including plan for follow-up/long-term care.

Nursing InterventionsRationaleBe aware of and deal with anxiety of patient and family members.Anxiety can interfere with ability to hear and assimilate information.Provide an active role for the patient and SO in the learning process (discussions, group participation, role playing).Learning is enhanced when persons are actively involved.Provide written and verbal information as indicated. Include list of articles and books related to patient and family needs and encourage reading and discussing what they learn.Helps patient and SO make informed choices about future. Bibliotherapy can be a useful addition to other therapeutic approaches.Assess patient’s knowledge of own situation (disease, complications, and needed changes in lifestyle).Assists in planning for long-range changes necessary for maintaining sobriety and drug-free status. Patient may have street knowledge of the drug but be ignorant of medical facts.Pace learning activities to individual needs.Facilitates learning because information is more readily assimilated when timing is considered.Review condition and prognosis and future expectations.Provides knowledge base from which patient can make informed choices.Discuss relationship of drug use to current situation.Often patient has misperception (denial) of real reason for admission to the medical (psychiatric) setting.Educate about effects of specific drug(s) used [PCP is deposited in body fat and may reactivate (flashbacks) even after long interval of abstinence; alcohol use may result in mental deterioration, liver involvement/damage; cocaine can damage postcapillary vessels and increase platelet aggregation, promoting thromboses and infarction of skin and internal organs, causing localized atrophie blanche or sclerodermatous lesions].Information will help patient understand possible long-term effects of drug use.Discuss potential for re-emergence of withdrawal symptoms in stimulant abuse as early as 3 mo or as late as 9–12 mo after discontinuing use.Even though intoxication may have passed, patient may manifest denial, drug hunger, and periods of “flare-up,” wherein there is a delayed recurrence of withdrawal symptoms (anxiety; depression; irritability; sleep disturbance; compulsiveness with food, especially sugars).Inform patient of effects of disulfiram (Antabuse) in combination with alcohol intake and importance of avoiding use of alcohol-containing products (cough syrups, foods and candy, mouthwash, aftershave, cologne).Interaction of alcohol and Antabuse results in nausea and hypotension, which may produce fatal shock. Individuals on Antabuse are sensitive to alcohol on a continuum, with some being able to drink while taking the drug and others having a reaction with only slight exposure. Reactions also appear to be dose-related.Review specific aftercare needs (PCP user should drink cranberry juice and continue use of ascorbic acid; alcohol abuser with liver damage should refrain from drugs and anesthetics or use of household cleaning products that are detoxified in the liver).Promotes individualized care related to specific situation. Cranberry juice and ascorbic acid enhance clearance of PCP from the system. Substances that have the potential for liver damage are more dangerous in the presence of an already damaged liver.Discuss variety of helpful organizations and programs that are available for assistance and referral.Long-term support is necessary to maintain optimal recovery. Psychosocial needs and other issues may need to be addressed.

9. Other Possible Nursing Care Plans

Nursing diagnoses you can use to make your own care plan for substance abuse:

  • – Therapeutic Regimen: Individual/Families, ineffective management—decisional conflicts, excessive demands made on individual or family, family conflict, perceived seriousness/benefits.
  • – Coping, Individual, ineffective—vulnerability, situational crises, multiple life changes, inadequate relaxation, inadequate/loss of support systems.
  • – Family Coping: potential for growth—needs sufficiently gratified and adaptive tasks effectively addressed to enable goals of self-actualization to surface.
  • – (Physical needs depend on substance effect on organ systems—refer to appropriate medical plans of care for additional considerations.)

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