Drug Abuse Among Nurses

  1. First time poster... wish it were for a different reason..

    My son has just been caught taking a sedative from the med cabinet at a hospital in illinois. He was suspected of it by his peers, was investigated, found out, and was drug tested and fired on the spot for having it in his system. No patients were impacted by this directly...well, they were not deprived of medication that they were taking according to him... unfortunately he most likely was impaired while on the job.

    I think he has an addiction to prescription medications... there have been signs for awhile, and I truely do believe he wants help and feels hopeless at this point because his entire 12+ year career has been in nursing. He didn't show signs of having problems until around December of last year, so I suspect he has been involved in this kind of thing for awhile...

    Basically what I wanted to know is if anyone knows the laws on this in Illinois? Is he at risk of going to jail (he had nothing in his possession, no law enforcement was involved at the time of the firing)? Are there any options for him to go through a drug rehab program and keep his license even if it is on probationary terms?

    I know his passion is nursing, or at least it was before he became caught up in this mess... and I also know that a lot of people out there will immediately condemn him (rightfully so)... but I'm really just looking for any kind of answers that can give him some hope of being able to get back in the profession (If he is clean and stays clean that is....) or if there is no option in Illinois to go through rehab, that information would help him to start looking into other careers (he has a BSN).

    Any suggestions/comments are appreciated.

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    About veggieeater

    Joined: Mar '11; Posts: 5; Likes: 6


  3. by   jammin246RN
    Drug addiction is a risk of the job. The boards of nursing realize this. Usually what happens is he contacts the board, arranges for a drug rehab, then gets put on probation for a period of time. While on probation he may not be allowed access to narcotics. After he completes probation he will be able to practice nursing unobstructed.... however he will have a blemish on his nursing liscense.
  4. by   heron
    There's a forum for nurses who have run into trouble with addictions:

    Lots of good information and support there.
  5. by   Silverdragon102
    Moved to the Nurses & Recovery forum
  6. by   veggieeater
    Thanks for the helpful comments. I expected a lot of bashing but I guess the internet isn't completely full of idiots! I will pass this information along to my son, he could really use any hope of continuing his career.

    Thanks again!
  7. by   jammin246RN
    Hope he gets help, stays clean and sober, and continues to be a caring nurse!
  8. by   spicy1RN
    I live in IL and am an RN in recovery. IL has a program, the Illinois Professionals Health Program, that will help your son. He should call them ASAP, and have an evaluation. They will then work with him, and help him do what he can to save his license. They are not the BON, but an advocate for health professionals, they manage treatement refererrals, referrals to aftercare professional groups, as well as random urine tests.Being fired means his employer may be reporting him to the board of nursing, so be prepared for that.
    The best thing I ever did for myself was to ask for help, I have now been in recovery for a little over 2 years, and in 2 more years I will finish my monitoring agreement and have an unrestricted license.
    IL BON will work with him, but it will be easier if he seeks treatment on his own, rather than being forced into it.
    Prescription drug addiction is a horrible disease, but there is hope. I am proof of that.
    Take care
  9. by   jackstem
    You can also contact the American Association of Nurse Attorneys for names of license defense attorneys in Illinois (www.taana.org). I strongly recommend obtaining at least a consultation with an experienced license defense attorney to be sure your son's rights are protected. He has the right to remain silent, and anything he says to an investigator (police or licensing board) can be used against him. Most boards of nursing do not tell a nurse facing an investigation they are allowed to retain legal counsel. It's difficult to determine if he will face criminal charges at this early date. Obtaining an attorney does NOT in any way prove anything...it does assure your son will have the best shot at a good outcome. Many of the recovering nurses on this bulletin board will tell you they wish they had obtained legal counsel.

    I also think the recommendation to contact the alternative program in Illinois is an excellent recommendation. If your son is indeed chemically dependent, he's going to need treatment, preferably in a facility with experience in treating health care professionals. The most prominent sign/symptom of the disease of chemical dependence is denial. As I heard one addictionologist say, "This is the only disease in which the person is convinced they don't have it, a majority have to be "caught" before they are diagnosed, and many, many are punished before receiving treatment."

    Chemical dependence is a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal disease affecting the brain. The combination of a genetic predisposition, significant stress in their life, and exposure to mood altering chemicals triggers the disease.

    I tell every person I meet with this lousy disease...you are not a bad person trying to become good. You have a disease and you want to become healthy.

    Keep us posted on how things are going. There is a great deal of experience, strength, and hope here.

    Prayers for your son, you, and your entire family.