“Nurse Jackie” - Successful, High-Powered Women Who Hide Their Addictions
Showtime has recently introduced a new series titled “Nurse Jackie”, which stars the real-life recovering addict and cancer survivor Edie Falco, as a secret pill-popping nurse and mother who works as an ER nurse and is also a parent while downing painkillers and snorting Adderall to keep herself going. Showtime gives this as the character description of Jackie Peyton:
Nurse Jackie Peyton is far from ordinary. As an ER nurse, she navigates the rough waters of a crumbling healthcare system; doing everything she can to provide her patients with the best care possible. Whether she’s lighting into a smug doctor for failing to heed her advice, or stealing a fat money clip from a man who stabbed a prostitute and giving it to a pregnant widow, or forging the organ donor card of a man who just died, Jackie Peyton is compelled to make sense of the chaos and to level the playing field whenever she can. Right or wrong, it’s Jackie’s brand of justice all made that more manageable by a daily diet of prescription pain medication.
She almost sounds a bit of a “Robin Hood” type character, within a high-pressure atmosphere that she cuts through with her tough and “to the point” attitude and persona. The show seems quite realistic in how it is bravely addressing and accurately depicting the common problems of hidden addiction among successful, high-powered professional women and mothers. Jackie is good at what she does as a nurse, but is not perfect. The show is also allowing us to see people with flaws and to know that they are not bad people… maybe just confused, struggling, troubled like everyone else in life is.
The show Nurse Jackie is portraying a woman who is successful in her career and is also hiding her addiction quite well from those around her. This addiction is prescription drugs, but for many women the addiction can be a number of things such as: alcohol, sex, internet, shopping, being a “people-pleaser”, over-working, gambling, over-achieving, etc. There are many women who struggle with these on a daily basis and have become master manipulators of themselves and their lives. These women can be the most beautiful, graceful, and intelligent people you know and are aware of their “masks” at all times in public; thus avoiding or dodging the help and support needed. Unfortunately, this continues the cycle of negative feelings they have of themselves.
This hidden problem is on the rise with women amidst recent economic downturns with resulting and increased financial stress. Certainly this can be relatable to many of us or our close friends and families. You could be working, grocery shopping, coaching, or exercising with women who are going through the same issues. You may know that someone is struggling with such things, but have been too fearful to reach out to them. So… what are you waiting for?
Why is it important?
* Family history – While the connection between genetics and environment isn’t clear, a family history of addiction puts someone at a higher risk of abuse.
* Mental Illness – Addiction and drug abuse can worsen mental illness or even create new symptoms, a common, but misunderstood problem called dual-diagnosis/co-occurring.
* Unseen Consequences – Despite feelings they can successfully hide their addictions, it still takes a toll on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
What are some warning signs?
1. Usage Increase – ongoing usage creates tolerance, which leads to the need for increased dosage/usage
2. Change in personality – behavioral changes can signal dependency, and may occur as the need for your addiction overtakes everyday life
3. Social withdrawal – sometimes withdrawal from family, friends, co-workers as their addiction takes hold
4. Ongoing Usage – continuing to use prescription drugs even after they’re needed for original ailment
5. Obsessing about usage – constantly thinking about your next fix or how much time you spend trying to obtain your drug of choice
6. Personal hygiene/appearance – daily habits change as a result of addiction, even for “so called” functioning addicts, oftentimes resulting in weight loss/gain, recurring sickness, hollow/sunken look and bloodshot eyes, etc.
7. Neglecting responsibilities – as an addiction takes over, people tend to neglect their work and home responsibilities more often
8. Increased sensitivity – normal sights, sounds and emotions can become alarming or too much to bear
9. Blackouts or forgetfulness – forgetting events is a clear sign of addiction
10. Defensiveness – addicts can become very defensive when/if they feel their secret is being suspected or uncovered, oftentimes resulting in the addict lashing out or overreacting
While many supposedly “functioning,” or hidden addicts incorrectly believe they are able to hide their addiction and thus shield friends and loved ones from its consequences, that’s simply not the case. Women may have the best intentions to be present at that PTA meeting or to show up for their child’s school recital, however, these seemingly important events become less desired or manageable if they do not have their prescription to help them through the moment. The meeting that had been planned for months may have to be rescheduled when the Adderall runs out and you cannot present your speech. Not only are there unseen consequences such as mood changes, emotional distance, etc but sooner or later, as we seem to sense with Nurse Jackie, there will also be more tangible consequences. Which can result in job loss; end your relationship, injury or even death.
Evaluate if you or someone you know is a secret addict by taking this evaluation:
About Brookhaven Retreat
Brookhaven Retreat is a unique, voluntary residential treatment facility specially designed to help women overcome emotional trauma or addiction challenges. The fully accredited and certified dual-diagnosis center is America’s premier treatment center for emotional trauma and addiction and offers female-specific treatment. Located on 48 beautiful acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, it offers modern, holistic care with compassion and respect from a highly trained expert staff of licensed therapists, physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses. Visit www.brookhavenretreat.com for more information.