Is an NP with history of addiction playing with fire to prescribe narcotics?

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  • Career Columnist / Author
    Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development. Has 30 years experience.

Hello Nurse Beth,
My question concerns a nurse who has been in successful recovery from addiction for over five years with 100% abstinence and a clean legal background. What is the probability that this nurse could (legally) become a certified nurse practitioner with unobstructed prescriptive authority? Asking for an RN.

Thank you,
Anonymous RN

Dear Anonymous,

Nurse practitioners receive prescriptive authority in different degrees across the nation. Full authority includes Schedule II controlled substance drugs, such as oxycodone and hydromorphone. Scheduled drugs are classified from II to V, with Schedule II drugs having the highest risk for abuse.

The application for prescriptive authority is separate in many states from that of credentialing. Additional educational requirements as well as supervising requirements vary greatly from state to state. Applicants must register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

It is the Board of Nursing that grants prescriptive authority. You need to consult your state BON. You don't say if your recovered nurse friend had any issue with her nursing license. If so, the BON would know about it and take it under consideration.

I'm sorry to say, I just really don't know the answer to your question as there are too many variables.

I do know that full prescriptive authority for an addict could be playing with fire. Does she really want to put herself in the way of easy access and temptation?

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

I really need someone to talk to. I love being a nurse. But I'm not perfect. I believe THC is the better option compared to prescription meds.  When I tried to get help I was shunned.


1 Post

Specializes in Psychiatric NP, previously RN for 11 yrs..

Dear Perfectly imperfect, it depends if the person has a history of arrests, they will have to go in front of the board explaining what happened. They MUST currently be sober or in treatment. The board looks at applicants with a SUD and reviews the situation individually. I would like you know that if you are sober and doing the right thing your past is not an automatic disqualification. Now if you feel that you would be tempted they can give you a limited license. I know a very successful NP that got into trouble and was rehabilitated and is currently working.