Nurses In Recovery

  1. I have been in recovery for almost 8 yrs, from drugs and alcohol. It has been a BIG issue with me to keep myself safe from my past additictions. I have known many nurses who have had this problem only to enter back into hospital nursing and end up using again.(Some have died) This is a topic in nursing that seems to be put aside. If you think about it we all know someone who has been in trouble or fired for using drugs in the hospital. They get treatment and are monitored, yet there is such high rate of residivism. I have chosen to remain outside of hospital nursing for the main reason of not having access to the BIG BOX. I would offer support to ANYONE who is looking for a way out. As someone very wise once asked me. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT? My life or pursuing a status in a hospital that really just want's a body to fill a slot on a unit. Not to mention that there are better jobs( pay and stress) out there.
    If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck. Must be a duck.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   MollyJ
    Hi Bob, Interesting post.

    I am a nurse who does drug prevention in a school setting (hence my signature). When I was working on my BSN, there was a nurse in several of my classes who was working on a BSN because she needed more options and she had been caught diverting drugs. It was a big issue for her that "no one would trust her." I didn't have any opinions personally, but now having worked with abusers and addicts, I think an addictive user would really be kidding themself to think they could be around narcs on a tough night and not get "tempted". I like your comparison to gauging that your life was worth more than a hospital nursing slot and truly nursing offers lots of options. Being around that nurse also taught me how common "recreational use" of chemicals by nurses was (back then, in the 80's particularly cocaine) and I doubt this has changed.

    Congrats on 8 years sobriety.
  4. by   Level2Trauma
    Hi all, I too, am in recovery. I, by the Grace of God and the program of AA, will have 8 years of sobriety July 24th. However, I have worked in the hospital setting for the past 5 years. I have worked Psysh nursing for a year, telemetry for a year and ER for past 3 years. By the Grace of God, I have never been tempted to use. I think it depends a lot on the quality of your sobriety. I don't consider using as an option anymore. I have also seen nurses who got caught and sent for mandatory treatment for narcotic abuse in the work place. All, I could think was, But by the Grace of God, there goes me. Another factor which I believe helps me is I make sure the people I work with (doctors included) that I am in recovery. I remember on one occasion when I was working telemetry, at the end of the shift during narcotic count, there wa 1 darvocet missing. Because they knew my history, they jokingly asked, did I take it. I calmly stated, Are there any left. If there are any left in the drawer, you can rule me out. I don't take just one (LOL). May God Bless and Keep, you and yours.
  5. by   ANnot4me
    I have been in recovery for 3.5 years. I have used street drugs, but I never diverted drugs from my place of employment. My drug of choice was ETOH. I left nursing 1.5 years ago; it wasn't due to the drugs, but because of the environment in which I was forced to work (hospital). The stress was unbelievable and I had lost my only coping mechanism. I was depressed and scared to death all the time and had nowhere to turn for support. After being away for a time, I can't even fathom allowing myself to be treated as I once was by management, physicians and coworkers.

    My employer was not involved in my recovery and I chose not to tell them anything because of fear. Addiction is a big problem in nursing, but it is only discussed in whispers and with a negative stigma attached. I have chosen to stay out of the profession because I want a quality of life that I cannot have in the hospital. I realize there are other options, but have chosen to start over as I feel that a future in nursing is limited.
  6. by   mustangsheba
    I support and admire all of you in recovery. My friends who are successful in their recovery have identified their areas of susceptibility and avoid working in areas that would put them in jeopardy. The State of Oregon works closely with nurses who have addictions so they can continue to provide their much needed skills in our profession. Best wishes to you all.
  7. by   MollyJ
    As nurses, I think we get a little cavalier about drugs. We jokingly talk about being "Vitamin V deficient" etc and I think we just forget about how the chemicals can be for some folks. I grinned at Level 2 traumas reply to a one short Darvon count, "Is there any left?" because I think that that would be true for alot of users but I also salute your willingness to not keep secrets and let everyone know your past.

    It's a complicated issue, isn't it? I also know someone who said that amphetamine use is always common among shift workers. Any reaction to that?
  8. by   Bonnie Blue
    I am recovering alcoholic with 15 years sobriety and will be starting a nursing program in the fall. I know that maintaince of my sobriety will need to be my priority, meetings etc. I feel comfortable working in a hospital. I'm not going to share my history unless the situation is appropriate. I applaud all of you for your recovery. I wouldn't trade any of my sobriety for anything.

    I suppose a related question might be intervening on a collegue. What do you do if you think someone you work with or in school is using?
  9. by   Nursz-R-Awsm
    Gimpbob, Level2, chigap, and Bonnie I applaud your honesty and ability to identify your limits. Maintaining your sobriety is hard work. I have a question also. From your point of view, how should this be handled? I have a suspicion that someone at work is using. I think the issue has been on the table since before I arrived. I don't see anything happening, I think no one has concrete proof, but the suspected drug in use has been put in lockup now. I am worried, this person needs help...but I guess that won't happen until there is something to go on. Any ideas?
    Thanks.
  10. by   Level2Trauma
    Nursz-R-Awsm, One thing is for sure, if this person is using, locking one drug up in a lock-box will not deter him. He will merely substitute another drug in its' place (or take the patients medications). I can't understand if it has been on the table before, why he wasn't required to have a drug screen (unless they didn't feel they had enough evidence). Regardless of what happens, it is a fact that until he wants help, little can be done for him. However, you must take into account, the patients; If you truly suspect that they are using, then you must utilize your nursing skills and observe his/her behavior and document any suspicious circumstances or behavior. If he/she truly is using, it won't take long for your observations to tell the tale. Keep me informed.

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Nurses In Recovery