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This is a discussion on question for addictions nurses in Addictions Nursing, part of Nursing Specialties ... Hi, I have been an rn for 2 yrs and was an LPN for 2 yrs before that. I have experience in...by jk6805 Dec 20, '10Hi,
I have been an rn for 2 yrs and was an LPN for 2 yrs before that. I have experience in med/surg, ltc and homecare. I am in recovery myself and have such a passion for helping my fellow addicts/alcoholics. I would love to land a job in a detox or rehab facility. Do you think the fact that I'm in recovery would help or hinder my chances in this area of nursing?
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- Dec 21, '10 by dekagirlsRNI work in a long term residential treatment center for women addicted to drugs/alcohol. There are many staff members there who are in recovery. At times, I feel those staff members seem to be at a better advantage because they have firsthand experience regarding drugs/alcohol, and at times can better relate to the client.
- Dec 24, '10 by WhisperaSince being in recovery can mean lots of things (how long, from what, how difficult it is now, etc.), I think I'd have to say "it depends" to your question. Absolutely someone in recovery will have an advantage over those not in recovery in terms of being able to relate. The temptation to take or use the detox meds might be big however, if the nurse's own recovery is tentative. I think it would be important to tell whoever is hiring about your own recovery and get input from him or her. It wouldn't be something you'd want to show up on down the road.
- Dec 24, '10 by elkparkI agree that the answer to the question is "it depends." I've known lots of recovering people who made great staff people in recovery programs, and others who "crashed and burned." I do know that lots of nurses with psych or addiction issues purposely choose not to work in psych or addictions because those areas cut a little "too close to the bone" for them and they prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate, and I have a lot of respect for the individuals who make that choice. There are serious issues of boundaries and "emotional baggage" to consider. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people are attracted to psych or addictions work because they're looking for help with their own issues, whether consciously or unconsciously, and that can create problems for them, their co-workers, and the clients (I've worked with more than my share of seriously troubled nurses over the years ... ).
Often, recovery programs give preference to recovering people in employment -- but, for your own sake, I would encourage you to be sure that your own recovery is really solid and well-established (plenty of time clean and sober) before attempting this. IMO (with decades of experience in psych and addictions, although I'm not a recovering person myself), it would be just asking for trouble for someone to try this early in recovery.
Best wishes for your continuing recovery, and your professional journey!
- Dec 24, '10 by Tom RN, NRCThe question you ask is enormously complex. Further just the way it is posed makes me worry for both you and the patients. The assumption that a recovering addict can safely relate to someone with active addiction better than someone who is not recovering shows a lack of insight into the complexity of relational capacity and addiction. For example is a person with personal experience with addiction more or less likely to be able take a stance of unknowing or non-judgement? Who is most likely to give care or advice based on best practice rather than personal thoughts, beliefs, or experiences? Who is more likely to struggle with being able to leave work at work? I guess the question that stems from there is; what is the risk to the recovering addict? Will the constant exposure to triggers decrease or increase his/her chance of relapse?
I don't think that the question should be would your experience help or hinder your chances of getting a job, but rather is this what would be best for you and the patients? Is the risk to you and them worth it for you and them?
If you are involved in AA/NA then you are already helping in a way that many cannot, by example. Why do you feel the need to do more?
Tom T RN, NRC
- Dec 26, '10 by RxOnlyI work in a detox in MA and we welcome individuals in recovery as long as they have been clean/sober for a year. Sometimes I look at websites for detoxes in fancier areas to see what they look like (Florida especially, since I'm considering a move there) and their websites have stated the same thing. Good luck! I think your past experiences will help you understand a recovering patient in a way that those who aren't in recovering can't.
- Jan 2, '11 by BigTimeNurseI work in recovery, and almost all of the techs are in recovery. In fact, the company I work for prefers that you are in recovery! It is definitely an advantage in my opinion!
As far as your own recovery goes, part of the twelve steps is helping other fellow addicts stay sober and aid them in recovery. So basically you can work your steps, be at service, and work all at the same time!
- Jan 4, '11 by MeriwhenIt could definitely help you because you can identify with the patients in many ways, some that non-addicts can't...but it could also hurt you. You will have to accept that not every patient's recovery will mirror yours, and you can't force your attitudes and views onto them. You can't force relapsers to make the changes they need to make. You'll have to accept that not every patient in detox wants recovery. And you will be working with a number of medications with abuse potential...perhaps not a wide range of drugs as you'd find in medical-surgical areas or other, but there are some, and diversion in addictions nursing can and does happen.
IMO, you need to have a solid handle on your own recovery before you try to help others with theirs: that means years of recovery under your belt, not weeks or months. To that end, most facilities will not hire you unless you have so many years in recovery (in my facility, it's at least one year).
I would definitely look into it if I were you because opportunities do exist for nurses in recovery, but only you can determine if your recovery is at a point where you can work in this area safely...and if you have any question about that, IMO I'd err on the side of caution and wait a bit longer.
- Jan 6, '11 by Life_is_good_1973It could definitely help you because you can identify with the patients in many ways, some that non-addicts can't...but it could also hurt you. You will have to accept that not every patient's recovery will mirror yours, and you can't force your attitudes and views onto them. You can't force relapsers to make the changes they need to make. You'll have to accept that not every patient in detox wants recovery.
- Jan 8, '11 by jk6805Thanks for your input everyone! I really appreciate it and have found it helpful.
I made no assumption. If I had, I wouldn't have even bothered to ask the question in the first place. Also, I did not ask if my experience would help me get the job. I asked if it would help/hinder my chances in the field, meaning my chances of being able to perform the job effectively. Just wanted to clear that up.Last edit by jk6805 on Jan 9, '11