Quote from newnurse Fresno
People do recover!! <snip> I think you guys are misjudging the OP. For people that have overcome addiction, this achievement means so much more to us. we are not willing to throw that all away, by stealing narcotics. Not only did we have to work just as hard, but we had our past in the way as a huge obstacle.
As someone who has worked in mental health, I definitely agree that recovery is possible in the MH/SA fields. A career in nursing is also possible, too, for many people who have had MH/SA issues, and their lived experience can be an asset.
That being said, a career RIGHT NOW may not be ideal. Being sufficiently grounded in one's recovery and having lived experience in recovery is important as there is a huge difference between having a couple month's recovery and years of recovery. One develops a more extensive set of recovery tools, develops healthy coping mechanisms, and is more likely to turn to positive supports than self-destructive habits.
Thus, my suggestion to go into peer work as a temporary alternative. It keeps OP in the health care field, but in a different capacity that is more supportive of recovery. If nurses swear by the watch-do-teach method of learning, so, too, can those in recovery: watching others live a fulfilling life in recovery, living that life, and teaching others how to do so can be helpful in furthering one's own recovery journey.
The peer worker at our CMHC was able to go to school while doing peer work, and their lived experience proved invaluable in their human services classes, and despite having issues with SA in the past, they were able to go on to become a very effective SA counselor, and, after a lot of study, a psych nurse working in a methadone treatment clinic. It was a long road for this individual, but it was possible.