Former drug addicts becoming nurses? - page 4

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   kbrn2002
    I read the replies and then went back and read your OP and I don't think you are being overly judgmental. These are legitimate questions. There haven't been current studies on relapse rates for health care professionals that I am aware of, and given the so called anonymous nature of addiction treatment any study performed would have the results impacted as all study members would most likely need to be volunteers that have a vested interest in maintaining their sobriety.

    You know this relative, we don't. If she is truly motivated in maintaining sobriety no profession will make a difference, there's sadly access to her drug of choice no matter what it is in every city in this nation. She doesn't need to be a nurse to find drugs and if she's committed to remaining clean being around them in a controlled work environment is no worse and probably better than being around her old "connections."

    As for her hiding her addiction history, who can blame her? There is such a stigma attached to addiction and mental health issues if she's open about her past to the new people she meets in her clean and sober life I guarantee she'll meet a lot of judgmental people. This includes the BON of any state. I've read enough threads on the recovery forum to terrify me and I don't have any alcohol or drug issues, imagine being a recovering addict just entering nursing and getting yourself thrown into that supposedly helpful system. If there are no arrests or convictions she has to report you bet I'd advise her to not self report any addiction or treatment history. Keeping the anonymous part of treatment truly anonymous would be a good idea.
  2. by   BellaGeorge
    Quote from vanilla bean
    Oh, c'mon Emergent, stay engaged. I had the same initial thoughts as a few other posters in terms of thinking you were being a bit judgmental based on your OP, but maybe if several of us were getting that vibe, it could prove an opportunity for you to further assess your point of view about the situation. Whether we're way off base or not, a little reflection about the topic can't exactly be a bad thing, can it? By the way, we have no way *but* to make a "snap judgement" one way or the other because we are reacting to the limited information that you posted without knowing anything about the dynamics of your interpersonal relationship with this other person.

    I hope you're checking back in and reading subsequent posts; we've had the privileged opportunity of reading posts shared by recovering addicts from our own little family here that may help to put your mind at ease or give you hope for the future success of your relative.

    Don't bristle and walk away because you disagree with what some of us have thought in reaction to your post, you're made of stronger stuff than that.

    Interesting how many are saying the OP is judgmental but they are also judging her. There is nothing wrong with the OP concerns with her loved one who used to use in the past and trying to protect the public. All wrong doings when licensed is public information if you know how to find it. When someone reads about a persons unappealing, we judge- whether we realize it or not - judging is part of our nature as human beings.

    I am in recovery and there is hope. It just depends on how bad a person wants it and how much a person is willing to take a look themselves. After I realized I had the disease and I went back to educate myself in a number of ways. I obtained my LADC (Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counseling certification). I knew the battle was never going to be entirely over with myself. We never are truly recoverED. Its true that mental health, addiction and the stigma does run very deep in our culture and this is great we are discussing the topic.

    This women has a chance. When she fills out her application for licensing- most states (if not all) will ask if she has ever needed help with drug addiction (can't remember exactly how its worded). This will send a red flag to the board and help protect the public. If she has something to help motivate her stay sober (i.e., family, a nursing license etc) this might be a good thing.

    I am now giving back when I can a rehab facility as an on call counselor and working full time as a dialysis RN.
  3. by   WhortonOKC
    I don't see why not, Christ, we have a higher percentage of nurses that have been into and out of peer review for narcotic or drug use than the general public. There is no reason why someone who was an addict BEFORE entering the profession should be barred. . .

    W. Horton RN BSN
  4. by   SobreRN
    Quote from Emergent
    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 home state.

    I'm pretty sure she's concealing her past struggles. I'm torn between hoping for the best for her, and fearing that nursing is not a good choice for a recovering drug addict.

    Thoughts?
    Actually I believe clean and sober nurses are quite good at working with patients who suffer from active alcoholism/addiction since we have 'been there, done that. Now nearly 29 years clean and sober but when I entered nursing school I only had 5 years. I had no record and, as far as I was concerned, it was nobodies business but mine. My substance abuse did not involve opiates/benzos or anything else I was likely to see in the hospital, I had the rare 'glass of wine' with dinner patients but not wine with a line. The only time I felt my mental health was adversely impacted is last 2 years of night shift, I never adjusted to night shift and was a wreck getting by on 3-4 hours a day. I will not work night shift and I would not recommend it to anyone else in recovery. Beyond that the only adjustments I would make is not as likely to work oncology, ER et al other areas where a ton of opiates are used if my drug of choice had been opiates just as I would not have worked in a field where cocaine was used hypothetically speaking.
  5. by   vanilla bean
    Quote from BellaGeorge
    Interesting how many are saying the OP is judgmental but they are also judging her. There is nothing wrong with the OP concerns with her loved one who used to use in the past and trying to protect the public.
    I agree, I did make a judgement based on the OP's post, but I was asked to. The last line of the post is, "Thoughts?" I gave mine and they are mine alone, I'm OK with the OP (and anyone else) not agreeing with me. That's the whole point a lively conversation or debate.

    I also agree with you that there is nothing wrong with OP's concerns for her loved one. I think a key component to a relationship with a loved one *is* concern for their wellbeing. What I would disagree with is a preemptive concern with trying to protect the public (your point, not OP's)

    Best wishes for your continued success in recovery.
  6. by   hherrn
    Quote from Emergent
    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 home state.

    I'm pretty sure she's concealing her past struggles. I'm torn between hoping for the best for her, and fearing that nursing is not a good choice for a recovering drug addict.

    Thoughts?
    No need to be torn between hoping for the best for her, and fearing that nursing is not a good choice for a recovering drug addict.

    You can do both.
  7. by   ProperlySeasoned
    It's very common in psych nursing to have staff members that have/had addictions. During my tenure I met some awesome nurses, and witnessed a couple horrific relapses. Though I have been an RN for over 15 years, all my roles have had limited or no exposure to narcotics/drugs of abuse. This was by chance, not design. By far, the drug that moses nurses (and people) will struggle with is alcohol, and that is in every profession. I do think it takes some discernment on the part of the individual to know what their triggers are, and work to avoid them. In the OPs situation, sounds like she had a rough youth/young adulthood, and has now grown up.
  8. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    Yep booze is the big one!!! It is pervasive and a part of American life. You cannot go a block in Pittsburgh without finding several places to get a drink. Personally, I feel this example exemplifies why keeping addicts away from narcs at work is faulty logic. You cannot keep addicts or alcoholics away from temptation. Booze and drugs are everywhere and easier to get than a good cup of coffee. Fighting the supply or "exposure" side to such substances is a waste of time. Ultimately its up to the person in recovery and the choice they make to use or not. Here its a lot easier to buy a bag of heroin than to steal narcs at work. Cheaper also if you factor in the possibility for a lost career & wages.
  9. by   sweet sunshine
    Let her figure it out and stay out of it.
  10. by   MiladyMalarkey
    She has more to lose now. Could be the motivation she needs to stay on the straight & narrow.
  11. by   3ringnursing
    She can do it Emergent, I really think she can.

    I've been in recovery for as long as I've been a RN.

    You are right - that is a lot of life changes at once (part of what caused my melt down too was many life changes all at once: new grad, new job, new baby, health problems, unexpected death of mom) and the pressure can be unreal. By the same token, it was also what helped me get my act together too.

    It can be done. I will say a prayer for her that life treats her well.

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