Former drug addicts becoming nurses? - page 3

A relative of mine struggled with drug addiction for years. She was in and out of rehab in another state. Now she's suddenly pregnant, married, and going to nursing school, having moved back to her... Read More

  1. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    This woman has 10 years of sustained recovery. That is something to be rejoiced and not scrutinized. At 10 years of sustained recovery her chances of abusing drugs are not significantly more than the nurse you are working with on your next shift (Study "An eight-year perspective on the relationship between the duration of abstinence and other aspects of recovery"). All of us have things in our past that we have dealt with and should not be the purview of review from outsiders. Simply put, its none of their business.

    However, I'm in a monitoring program and I will tell you if she reveals her past recovery efforts and issues to the BON in my state she will be placed in a monitoring program as in my group there is a young nurse who had addiction issues as a teenager and got clean over 10 years ago. Basically, hers is the same story as the woman in this post. Being in a monitoring program is problematic. Its time consuming, expensive, intrusive and like many "treatments" has unwanted side effects. If she's in my state she will need permission to get her first job & that job will have limitations and stipulations attached to it. She probably will not be able to work for her first 6 months in the program as at the very least they will send her to some form of counseling and she will have to do "90 meetings in 90 days". Once she gets a job she won't be able to pass narcs for at least 6 months, she will have restrictions on when and where she can work, her employer will have to agree to fill out quarterly reports and she will have to attend nurse support group meetings weekly and submit to random DAUs. In my area that means the nurse is usually confined to employment in long term care or dialysis for about 4 years and has to pay in an average of $100 per week for participation.

    The most evident unintended side effects of these programs designed to help nurses with addiction issues are poverty, anxiety, career debilitation and a chilling effect on seeking treatment. Honestly, if I were her I would never admit to seeking treatment for the disease of addiction to the BON. All of this happened years ago before she probably even had any thoughts of being a nurse and its confidential medical information. Should they get their hands on the information I would hope they and the medical facility that turned it over would be sued to within an inch of their fiscal lives. This is the chilling effect I'm talking about. I would never recommend or report another nurse for substance abuse issues after going through this. In fact this was the topic of discussion at our last weekly meeting & I'm not the lone ranger with these sentiments. After being in the program for varying lengths of time one nurse of twelve said she would either seek help from a monitoring program, recommend it or report another nurse with addiction issues.

    Personally, I don't consider myself in recovery at all but in a period of forced abstinence. Once again I'm not alone in these sentiments. I think the ideal of these programs are a great idea but their implementation has become punitive and over-reaching & I think that explains the sentiments towards them by most of those nurses subject to them.

    Anyway, I wish this woman the very best and I would think her perspective as somebody who has the disease of addiction and has been in sustained recovery would be a credit to our profession. After all we are nurses we aren't supposed to look down our noses at people who have a disease but we all know that's not what would happen as she would be scrutinized and judged by people who have no business doing so.

    Have a happy Sunday All!!!
  2. by   RNperdiem
    Going to nursing school takes some sustained effort and thinking about the future. This is a good sign for a recovering person.
    I would be more worried if she moved home and stayed unemployed with no plans for the future.
    We don't know much about the husband, but if he is a good and supportive person, that helps too.
  3. by   SobreRN
    Addicted to what? I have been clean and sober nearly 30 years, never arrested and considered this my own business 21 years ago when I graduated. I do believe ones 'drug of choice' may make a difference. My love-fest was with alcohol and cocaine, i knew I would not be working with either.
    If I had an issue with opiates I still would have taken same career path but I would have gone into work areas which do not use these drugs as much; just as I would not work as a bartender i would not have gone into oncology had I been in recovery from opiates. I think it is prudent to evaluate situation and choose specialty accordingly, she would be a great asset to recovery nursing!
  4. by   BCgradnurse
    She's either going to sink or swim, but it seems as though she is trying to turn her life around, and should be given the chance to do so.
  5. by   SobreRN
    Quote from Emergent
    About 10 years.

    To the person who called me names, I'm bringing this up as a general subject, with my relative as an example. This wasn't just a little partying, this woman was in rehab at least 3 times for addiction and abuse of hard drugs.

    Is nursing, with its frequent handling of controlled substances, a good career choice for a recovering drug addict? Alcohol seems to be a different beast in my mind, but I may be wrong.

    I'm wondering if there's any hard data on this subject, or only emotive speculation?
    Alcohol was absolutely my #1 and it is a bit of a different beast in that it is everywhere. When newly clean and sober in '89 I would have had to go out of my way to come in contact with cocaine but not so with alcohol. The only social events I saw without alcohol were AA-related, I grew more comfortable being around alcohol with time but I would still not have it in my house and I do not hang out at bars.
  6. by   AutumnApple
    "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove."

    Well, assuming she's not lied and such to manipulate background checks, she's done nothing reportable. Even if you suspect she has manipulated the system, can you prove it? If not, it's wasted energy deciding if you agree with her career choice or not. She's free to go whatever route she chooses.

    Seriously, lets say you got "No, it's a bad choice" answers in this post, and you decided that was how you felt too. What can you do about it, realistically?

    If you dislike her life choices, free yourself from her. Distance yourself, don't be bothered and, as they say, wash your hands of it all. You have that right, just as anyone else.
  7. by   Been there,done that
    Has she actually been accepted to the nursing program, or is she taking pre- requisites?
  8. by   wondern
    Maybe she wants to take after her awesome aunt?

    Give her a spoonful of sugar so to say... unknown-1-jpeg in a most delightful way!
    All she needs is love now sounds like, and support. The main thing all of us are living for, heh?
    Be proud. Hold her hand. Let her know you're there for her.
  9. by   hppygr8ful
    One last comment - one of the best way of maintain one's sobriety is to live your life in the service to others - Nursing seems like a pretty good fit for this category.

    Hppy
  10. by   wondern
    Maybe you could have a 10 year clean and starting a new exciting and challenging journey into nursing party for her? Help show her different directions in nursing. I don't know. Just an idea.

    Do you live nearby? Turn it around to a definite positive from your direction too if you feel like helping.

    Regardless, we are your friends Emergent. You know that. We know that you know that we know that you know...

    I think it's fantastic that you brought the topic up for discussion! That shows love right there. We all show love in our own way.
  11. by   djh123
    Every person is different, obviously. Some may be able to totally put something in their past, and others may not be able to. I wish her the best.
  12. by   hawaiicarl
    Quote from Emergent
    About 10 years.

    To the person who called me names, I'm bringing this up as a general subject, with my relative as an example. This wasn't just a little partying, this woman was in rehab at least 3 times for addiction and abuse of hard drugs.

    Is nursing, with its frequent handling of controlled substances, a good career choice for a recovering drug addict? Alcohol seems to be a different beast in my mind, but I may be wrong.

    I'm wondering if there's any hard data on this subject, or only emotive speculation?
    I view this as a recovering alcoholic going to bartender school .... easy access, constant exposure .... what are they thinking!?!?!? We admitted a senior nursing student as a patient for a drug OD, the whole time I am thinking "OMG due to HIPAA I can't even report this to his instructors"
  13. by   hppygr8ful
    Quote from Emergent
    I'm wondering if there's any hard data on this subject, or only emotive speculation?
    Research is my thing so I consulted my University's library data base (one of the perks of joining an alumni association) and found very little on your question. I did find 1 old study 1994 that suggested the relapse rate among recovering nurses hovered around 24%. A fairly large number to be sure but this would in turn suggests that 76% do not relapse.

    CAS – Central Authentication Service

    Hppy

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