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In monitoring program (DMU) 4 1/2 years sober and screwed up!


Help! I am absolutely freaking out now. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been without a drink for 4 1/2 years. In those years AA and my higher power has provided me with multiple blessings. I had previously surrendered my LPN lic due to my drinking. In sobriety I joined PNAP and after 3 years of following their program flawlessly I was able to have my lic re-instated under a DMU contract. During this time I went back to school and just graduated as an RN, I passed my boards and was blessed with a job in a D&A facility that is sympathetic to my 6 month narcotics restrictions. Everything has been wonderful in my life...then I made the poor decision to take one of my dog's tramadols due to stomach cramps. I honestly don't know what I was thinking...how could I have been so careless. I am devestated and terrified! I recieved a phone call from my PNAP case manager today and I told her what I did. She said I needed to stop work immediately and that I will have to send a letter to the BON and wait to see if my lic will be suspended for another 3 years. I am feeling suidical right now and scared to death. I keep asking myself how could I have been so stupid and careless. I know better! I am praying they will consider extending my DMU agreement and allow me to go back to work in a timely matter. My boss was very kind and said she will hold my job, she knows I am relieable and I never gave her a reason to doubt me. Has anyone out there been in a similar situation? If so, what was the outcome? I have not told my family yet, they are going to be devestated, I just need to know if I should just get out of this field. I can't go unemployed for another 3 years. I am very grateful that this hasn't made me want to pick up a drink, for me that would ensure death, but I am so upset. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Try to contact the suicide hotline. This must be very difficult to deal with.

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

You need to speak with someone now if you are suicidal. There are hotlines to help you organize your thoughts and help you stand up over this misstep. I cannot tell you what the BoN is going to do but you made a IMHO wise decision to alert your case manager ASAP. Perhaps if you've been honest and following the program diligently so far there may be options other than license revocation. You've come far. You passed the NCLEX twice.

Take a breath and look at all your options and possibilities. Look at your accomplishments. If still suicidal, get help now. Don't wait. You matter.

catmom1, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Psych, Med/Surg.

Let me weigh in here. One of my "hobbies" during my extended periods of unemployment is looking up what happens to people who have drug issues and get disciplined on their licenses.

When I was being monitored, I followed all rules to the letter but I know of many who screwed up while on contract and either their license was suspended for 6 months (in the case of drinking and a positive EtG test). One nurse I knew altered a prescription :wideyed: while on contract and she only got another year added on to her monitoring period, which I thought was extremely lenient.

My state is one of the strictest I know of, with no alternative to discipline, always a 5 year contract if you divert, no "early outs" on contracts, etc.

So, RNDMU/PNAP, I understand that you are freaking out now and have felt that way myself. If you really are suicidal, please take the other responders advice and go to an ER for help or call a suicide hotline. When things calm down for you and this blows over, just use it as a learning opportunity and be grateful you could find work as an RN. There are many of us who cannot, no matter how many years clean we have.

Don't do anything hasty and you will be okay.


Catmom :paw:

RedInScrubs, ASN, RN

Specializes in Medical-Surgial, Cardiac, Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

If you have feelings of suicide, I agree, contact a helpline immediately.

That being said, I know family members who struggled with addiction and losing their license while being under contract with the BON. Hang in there. Get help. Take care of yourself. And good luck.

I just had this conversation today with my partner- he asked if I had considered taking a substance while he was gone. I told him it wasn't worth it as I am almost at the halfway point... that does not stop me from fixating at times... you and me are only one hand movement away from one another.

I like catmom1 have read all of the disciplinary documents online to see why people failed. It was only those who gave up altogether and didn't follow through on the program. Even those who had multiple slip ups have been given discipline and 2 years of direct board probation.

I think it is a shame that when one has a slip up that it is not seen as a part of the recovery process- you are obviously learning more about yourself- you will grow from this.... spend some time to learn about yourself and what happened. Letting your mind play out a million unlikely scenarios is not going to help.

Center yourself on the here and now, you are physically ok, take it one step at a time.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Suicide is not the answer. Please seek help immediately. We have ALL made bad choices but there is a way to heal.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Call the suicide hotline.

After that just get a non-nursing job. It is not the end of the world. You can still do many things to earn a living. You have NOT done anything earth shattering. Life will go on and you will be perfectly OK. What is important is that you are alive and breathing and a part of the world. My family has been devastated by the act of suicide and your family and you do not deserve that. Do not go there. Ever.

Day two and I am thinking much more rational then I was yesterday. I spoke with a friend in AA last night and told her I how I felt and she came over and helped me put things into perspective. I think what is upsetting me the most is the thought of how much this is going to disappoint and hurt my parents. They are elderly and went through sooo much when I was an active alcoholic. They suffered right along side of me, and never gave up on me. I owe them so much and one of my most important ammends was to live a life that gave them peace of mind and for the past 4 1/2 years I have. I realize suicide would be the most selfish and hurtful thing I could do to them, so I will not, I think I was just thinking crazy yesterday. I made an appointment for this fri with a councelor to get an eval and reccmendation. Today I am constructing a letter to send to BON explaining my actions. Then I guess all I can do is wait. My PNAP case manager says it will probally take longer then a month to hear back. I am doing a lot of praying and hoping I will get through this with a lesson well learned. I absolutely LOVE nursing, it is a passion of mine and I love working in a D & A facility with others who are stuggling. I really hope and pray I can continue in my profession as I have no other skills or interests...I am 41 years old and don't want to start over. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and truely believe everything happens for a reason. I say I have not had a desire to drink in over 3 years, but after seeing the very stupid decision I made with no thought of concequences makes me relize I became complacient in my program. Maybe this is God's way of giving me a wake-up call before I became so over confident and felt like maybe one drink would be Ok too...God knows anyone who was as much of a hopeless alcoholic like me can never become to comfortable in this program. Thank you all for your advice and comments, it is very much appreciated.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you. 1 year into my contract with TPAPN I became very depressed/panicked and had to spend 48 hours in a mental hospital. That was a violation of the TPAPN rules, so I was given the option of starting over or leaving the program. After much gnashing of teeth I started over. Being told that the whole last year of IOP, AA/NA meetings, 90/90 logs, UA tests wouldn't count almost sent me right back to the hospital. I know how terrible you feel and low. Reach out to as many people as you can and hold on. Things may seem hopeless right now, but they will get better. Be patient and you will see. PNAP might give you the option of starting over. Start over and take this episode as a life lesson. Get ALL substances out of your house. I don't keep anything around: poppy seeds, vanilla extract, hair spray, Nyquil, etc. When my husband broke his hand I had him keep the Vicodin in a lock box. I felt like scum admitting to him that it was a temptation/trigger for me, but it kept me from putting the pills in my mouth in a moment of weakness.

Thank you Cat_lady83, good advice. I am hoping I am strong enough to do what I need to do and make it a learning experience no matter what the outcome is. When I first got sober I had no intention of trying to re-instate my nursing lic, I just wanted to be sober and free of this awlful disease. Since then my priorities shifted into being "super-nurse" and other ego-driven roles. I need to get back to what is #1 importance, and that is my sobriety, not just reframing from a drink, but living the program and helping others, honesty, doing the next right thing...all those principals that I have obviously put on the back burner lately.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I had to have my husband lock up my Ativan last fall after I OD'd on it, and that was after almost 22 years of sobriety. I'm not in any monitoring program, thank God, but I tell my story to let people know that it doesn't matter how long one has been clean/sober, there is ALWAYS a chance of relapse and we must be ever vigilant against it.

OP, I'm glad you're feeling a little better and have decided to stick around. Wishing you the very best. ((((HUGS))))


Specializes in long-term-care, LTAC, PCU. Has 13 years experience.

I'm glad you are feeling better and let me tell you that I have been in your shoes before. I'm glad you reached out to someone in recovery.

I am sorry I don't have an answer for you. I just wanted to say that I think you are an amazing person for going through all that you have, never giving up and sticking with it. I wish you the best of luck!

while you did the right thing and notified your CM for taking a prescription that you did not have... out of curiosity, you know tramadol does not show up under any drug test, or was this more of a clear of conscious reason to inform your CM?

Tramadol does show up on test used by TPAPN , I speak from experience .

Unfortunately, it does show up, any substance can show up depending on what they are testing for and what option is choosen. I am pretty certain even OTC such as claritin, benadrly, and robitussin...ect show up. Our contracts state we can not use anything other then ASA, Motrin, or tylenol without doctors note. I have been extremely carefull for the past 4 years, I even had my doc write a perscription for multivit and iron supplements in the past. This time, I was just completely impulisive, and took the pill without thought of consequences...this was soooo not like me...which makes me question my program and where I was headed next. 4 1/2 years I have been flawless in my monitoring program, never missed a call, UDS, payment or report. How quickly my life has changed. Now my future is uncertain and I am living with constant fear and anxiety,,,just like I did when I was a drunk...the only difference is I am not drinking to calm my nerves...thank god.

TXRNC, what was your experience? I am asking because I still have not heard what is going to be my fate. I have submitted a letter to BON explaining what I did, I went for an evaluation from a BON approved therapist. He said he is going to reccommend that suspension will be counterproductive. My employeer said she will try to save my position, but I don't think she will be able to for very long. I have to tell my family tomorrow about my situation and they are going to be crushed. I am hoping I can at least give them some hope that this will get resolved and that I will not lose my lic. This waiting game is starting to really work on me...I have been hitting a lot of meetings and praying contantly but it isn't helping ease my nerves too much :(