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Provocative Topics
Memoirs of a Recovering Drug Addicted Nurse
Freedom for those trapped in drug abuse.

Drug addiction? That could never happen to me!

I wish that were the truth. I’m a nurse, and I certainly never thought I was vulnerable.

Not all nurses will develop the disease of addiction. But for many nurses, addiction is real. Substance abuse in the nursing population is believed to parallel or be slightly higher than that in the general population: approximately 10%. And it very often begins with a legal prescription for a legitimate medical problem. That’s how it started for me, anyway.

A Migraine of Problems
When Stadol first came on the market (1991), it was not considered or marketed as a controlled substance, so I wasn’t concerned about my Stadol nasal spray prescription for the migraines I suffer. Two years after using Stadol as prescribed, I had major abdominal surgery. Three weeks following that surgery, I found out my abdominal wounds weren’t healing and my incision opened in four separate areas, exposing my abdominal wall.

The next two years were very difficult. In order to encourage healing of these deep wounds, I had to “heal by granulation.” I had to keep the wounds irritated, cleaning them with medicated soaps and rough gauze 2-3 times a day. My doctor prescribed Stadol nasal spray for my dressing changes; it still hurt, but the Stadol made it more tolerable.

No one knew Stadol was addictive and should be treated as a controlled substance. Stadol was usually ordered for short term pain relief in recovery rooms of hospitals, so it was considered perfect for my dressing changes. I wasn’t getting high on it. The drug just made the pain go away.

As I healed, I continued using Stadol for the dressing changes as prescribed; I’m not exactly sure when the physical pain actually ended and my fear of being in the pain began to drive my continued use.

The Drug Becomes Master
My abdominal healing took two years. During that time, Stadol slowly gained control of my life. Scientific research has found that actual chemical changes occur in the pleasure/reward area of the brain with repeated use of narcotics. This area is also responsible for human survival instincts. Pretty soon my brain was telling me: “Eat, sleep, take Stadol, drink water, take Stadol, hit the washroom, take Stadol.” I believed I truly needed it to survive.

You don’t really notice when the transition happens. However, when you haven’t taken the drug, you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as itching, diarrhea, intense muscle cramps, sweating, anxiety, or as in my case, shakes and nausea. Then you take the drug, and the pain goes away. After all, we’re taught, that’s what it’s there for, right? Nurses see instant relief—both physical and emotional--in their patients’ when pain medication is given.

Diversion Begins
When I was working in Labor and Delivery, the dose of Stadol required for our patients was half of what was available in the vial. This meant that we would have partial vials of Stadol leftover. As we rushed to clean up after a delivery, the vial(s) would end up in our pockets--and often the process of properly discarding them was overlooked.

One day after arriving home and having a headache, I found my nasal spray was empty. I had a vial of injectable Stadol in my pocket, and I wondered, If I put this in a nasal spray bottle, will it work? It didn’t. Because I’m diabetic I had syringes, and without thinking I injected myself intravenously; like many nurses, I was skilled in starting IVs.

During this time, I didn’t/couldn’t see anything wrong with taking the leftover vials from the hospital. I rationalized that I would have tossed them out otherwise, and it saved me a trip to the pharmacy.

One thing led to another. Eventually I was taking full vials home and injecting Stadol on a daily basis. When I was medicating a patient, I would often take out two bottles: one for them, and one for me. And as I later learned in treatment, my usage increased as my tolerance increased; soon I needed more and more.

Eye Opening Intervention
Desperate, I began to use a coworker’s code for the Pyxis system. The pharmacy started asking questions when they realized my coworker was signing out a lot of medication-- even when she wasn’t on duty and sometimes for patients no longer at the hospital but still in the system. Because of me, she was fully investigated; I can’t imagine how horrible that must have been for her. My drug use caused me to act and function outside my “normal” moral behavior: typical addict behavior.

Around this time I finally realized that I was really sick, that I had become addicted to Stadol. But where could I go? Who was going to help me? I felt an overwhelming amount of shame, guilt, and humiliation: I’m a nurse, I should know better. I’m supposed to be helping people.

Once I realized what was going on, I firmly believe the healthier part of my brain started making mistakes on purpose so I would get caught. During their investigation, state drug control agents installed surveillance cameras over each of the three Pyxis systems on our floor. Once they had enough evidence, I was confronted. I was physically ill when I saw the still shots from the video cameras. The day I was confronted was the worst and best day of my life; I no longer had to hide my illness, and I could stop lying, especially to myself.

I wasn’t thrown in prison. They didn’t take away my son. I wasn’t fired. But I did have to go before the State Board of Examiners for Nursing and my nursing license was disciplined. My probation lasted four-years, which certainly wasn’t a cake walk. During the first year I didn’t have access to narcotics, which required co-workers to medicate my patients. And during all four years, both my nurse manager and therapist had to submit monthly reports regarding my ability to practice safely. I also had to submit to weekly and then twice monthly urine drug screens and attend support group meetings.

Alternative to Discipline
Each state has its own disciplinary practices, often governed by the Department of Public Health or other licensing body. This type of disciplinary process is public and punitive. Can you imagine having heart disease and being punished in a public forum? There are only about four states that do not have an alternative-to-discipline program. I wish that an alternative-to-discipline program had been instilled in my state at the time of my intervention; that’s why I’ve been fighting for it publicly ever since.

An alternative-to-discipline program recognizes that drug addiction is a disease and an occupational hazard for nurses. It provides them an avenue for getting help while maintaining their integrity, dignity, and job status after rehabilitation.

You can self-refer yourself, or a facility or coworker can refer you. There are mechanisms within the program to address those referrals and get nurses out of practice and into treatment and recovery without impacting their confidentiality or their ability to practice safely once they are proven fit to work. It functions within a case management system; therefore, trained addiction specialists conduct all monitoring. The process begins immediately, without the Department of Public Health’s involvement.

And Now?
I’m not a bad person, and I wasn’t then. I used a drug prescribed to me that was unknown to be addictive. But it turned into a disease. Without knowing it, I was putting other people in jeopardy—mainly because I was afraid of what would happen if I looked for help.

I’ve been clean for ten years, and I continue to hold an active nursing license which has been unencumbered since 2001. My son is 14, knows his mom is in recovery, advocates for other nurses, and provides tremendous support. I went back to school and earned a DARC (Drug/Alcohol Recovery Counselor) degree in 2005.

I am very active in the recovering nurse community and am an advocate for all recovering individuals. I have helped co-author legislation for an alternative-to-discipline program for Connecticut nurses in the past; now that Connecticut has passed a law allowing such a program, I am involved in its development. I am also an active member of Nurses for Nurses--Connecticut’s peer support group for nurses.

Nurses suffering from addiction are no different from anyone else suffering with a chronic and progressive disease. Addiction doesn’t discriminate or care what you have or what your status is in society. They say it’s an equal opportunity disease.

So, if you find yourself or a friend in this situation, find out if your state has an alternative-to-discipline program – and use it. Also locate the nurse support groups available. Remember: You don’t have to do this alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking pills or injecting; addiction is addiction, and you need freedom from it.

All nurses work extremely hard to become a nurse, but what’s most important: your license or your life? The opportunity for a better life is there. Take it.

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182 Responses to “Memoirs of a Recovering Drug Addicted Nurse”

  1. Heather Baker Says:

    Thank you for this article. I am an RN in Maine. I am going through basically the same thing right now. I go before the board on Dec 5th. Any advice? Also, do you know if maine has a program in place? Thank you so much. This article has helped me tremendously. I am grateful.

  2. Mr Ian Says:

    Discipline is difficult for anywhere in healthcare. I am not familiar with the alternatives-to-discipline processes but they seem very similar to the philosophy of putting drug addicted offenders in hospital rather than in prison.

    As an employer: would you want to take that risk of having someone with a disease that has implications for the unit and the patients working for you? It may be discriminatory, but if it went wrong, it would also leave the employer in a predicament of having “allowed” it to happen.

    For a nursing board I believe the contrary is more applicable, although they also require a meaure of ‘public safety’ in their decision making. Generally tho, I find that nursing boards/councils/bodies nurses try to look after nurses.

    I work with many staff who find their anger levels increase because of the nature of the clients we work with (mentally disordered offenders many with anti-social personality traits). As a supervisor, I try to cut both these items into the same decision making process – ie recognise the causality of the job in affecting staff behaviour but also maintain a line that should not be crossed.

    When behaviour becomes illegal, compromises patient care or impacts on the wider service, then there is imperative need to address the matter.

    In this instance; theft of drugs for personal use is illegal and also impacts on the finances of the hospital or patient paying for them. The addictive nature of the substance makes a requirement for ongoing monitoring and for nursing boards to ensure the support to remediate the issue is available and taken. It did not seem to directly impact on patient care so I would be inclined to agree with the action of the board and employer to essentially understand the issue, but also draw a line on the tolerance that was afforded.

    Nothwithstanding, I hope that the nurses’ changing attitudes towards people with drug addictions spills over into the understanding of patients who are just the same – and require support to effect change rather than the ‘discipline’ of prison life or being told to “go away’ and stop wasting the healthcare services time with your problems.

  3. dede Says:


    First of all, take a deep breathe; everything will be ok. I’m so glad my article was helpful, I’m very glad you reached out, that’s a huge step.
    I checked all my sources and Maine does not have an alternative to disciplne program as yet. I might suggest that when you go before the board, have legal council. Most nursing board actions are administrative in nature but you still have rights and should take advantage, not because you have anything to hide but to protect your best interest. Most important is that you be honest before the board, I would guess if Maine is like most states, you won’t be the first nurse before them with this disease and they usually know when folks are not honest.
    If you can, put the emphasis on what you’ve done (hopefully you’ve gone to treatment and are in early recovery) since you were confronted (caught). If you’re allowed, bring copies of all documents that prove you have gone to treatment, are building a support network (support letters from sponsor, family, co-workers). Write a letter to the board expalaining what you know about why you became addicted and what you’ve learned from this experience. If you feel remorse say so, explain any shame & guilt you have, don’t whine, just the heartfelt facts. Let the board know you are human and hold your head up, if you had diabetes would you feel less than???
    As difficult as this time is, getting into recovery offers you a chance to be healthy and live a more sane life. It isn’t easy to get past the shame and guilt, we all have it and it’s a process to move through it. You have been ill and need to manage this disease like any other, ill does not equal BAD. You can do it.
    You will be in my thoughts and prayers

  4. aol39 Says:


    I am in recovery and have been looking for the nurses for nurses number to call, so I may find a meeting to attend. I’m a Certified Surgical Tech with a few classes to go for my RN. I’ve been recovering for 6 months (with a relapse) and could use more help.


  5. dede Says:


    Please email me directly (I will give the editor permission to send it to you) I can help you out if you live in CT. Most states have some type of peer recovery group for professionals in recovery. This type of information might be found on the state’s nursing board website or nurse’s association site.

  6. kim Says:

    Hi Heather,I am also from Maine. I surrendered my liecense almost 3 years ago, but admitted my guilt to the D.A. and received a felon. Do you live near Portland? There is a meeting for health care professionals at Mercy Hospital Wed. nights (in the basement, of course!)

  7. dede Says:


    It’s great to see other nurses in recovery reaching out. This is the behaviour that can only benefit our colleagues.

  8. Lilly Says:

    Dear Dede,
    It was great to stumble on your article. Thank you for writing this. I could use some advice on a family situation. My sister is a practicing LPN. She has become addicted to prescrition drugs, mainly oxycodone, oxycontin and zanax. She also mixes this with some drinking. Her life is a mess but she is holding on to her job. She was recently arrested for possessing paraphenalia in her car two straws and for DUI, though the breathalyzer did not register an alcohol level. She faces mis demeanor charges for both of these counts. It looks as if she can get out of this as they did not find any illegal drugs in her an dshe had a prescription for all the drugs she possessed. She lives far away from me. I did finally call her lawyer and he told me he is fed up with her as she has not been following through or paying him. He told me that he feels she is very addicted to drugs and that she is in rough shape. He said if I were you I would report her to the nursing board. I am not sure what to do. Her job is one of the last things she has left. She does not even have a home anymore. I realize she could be putting people in harms way and I do not know why I hesitate to report her. How willthey do anything if she has a prescription to these drugs? At the place she works do they not see that she is a bit messed up? I am assuming she limits the pills while she is at work but it still must affect her. What should I do? I know this is a family disease and I do not want to contribute and be co dependent and I want to do the right thing. What would you suggest? I will look into if the state she is in has a alternative to discipline. I will try on line to find that out. Please if you have any suggestions they would be so welcome. I just hope that my sister can find her way out of this like you did. She is in deep denial and I do not know how to affect that denial. Thank you very much. Lilly

  9. anamonyous Says:

    nice article but in healthcare today, there is little to no compassion for nurses in a recovery program. My suggestion is to find another profession. I am tired of living life in a monitoring program to the point participants can’t even drink water, eat a cookie, or even go to the dentist with out first obtaing “permission” for the higher power!!!

  10. anonymous in Tx Says:

    I too am a recovering addict who has been a nurse for 19 years. After 3 years of sobriety and thousand’s of meetings and a stiff 2 years of daily observation by TPAPN- I have slipped. The persecution that the law puts on you is nothing compared to the guilt and self loathing you feel. Your employer doesn’t want you on their staff- and no one wants to hire you with stipulations. This is a disease. No one says when I grow up I am going to be an addict. All my life I wanted to be a nurse. In rehab they teach the crack addicts to stay away from the crack houses- how do you teach nurses to stay away from prescription drugs? We touch them every day. I am thinking of leaving the profession all together. My addiction is to demerol- I can’t be around it, our my drug seeking patients that the doctor’s so freely dishes it out to. I love my profession and feel it’s a God given gift. But I am spiritually drained from my failure.

  11. manda Says:

    I am grateful for your story. I am an addict and in hiding. I don’t dare tell anyone about my problem because of the profession I’m in. I’ve never stolen medicine from work or anywhere like that, but I buy it illegally and use it and I’m very scared of getting caught. This didn’t start with nursing, I had a few problems when I was a teenager. I quit for a long time and started again after my divorce a few years ago. I don’t know how to talk to anyone or what to do. I don’t know how to quit either. One day seems like a million years without anything. How did you overcome that feeling of wanting to take something??

  12. dede Says:


    Recovery is a process – no one just falls into it,, just like no one just gets addicted.
    I fully understand how afraid you’re feeling, that’s so normal and at the same time fear may be preventing you from getting the help you need.
    If you are using and working as a nurse, you are placing your patients in jeopardy – it may not seem like it BUT if you’re using your judgement is most likely impaired.
    Take a leave of abcense and enter treatment – be proactive to take care of yourself ASAP. You need to stop working so your patients are protected.
    I know it’s difficult but it’s far better for you to get help before you hurt someone,,,,or die.
    I have asked the site to give you my email address in case you want to talk more.
    Manda – you don’t have to do this alone, there is help and support available.

  13. Catherine Says:

    I was so inspired by your article. I am an RN in MD. I obtained my license in PA. I was a Nurse for 8 years when my husband of 21 years and I moved to WVA and built a dream house. I never even took a Tylenol from a patients med drawer. After 1 year of living there, he wanted to move back to PA. I was confused. My youngest daughter moved to WVA to be close to us while living on College campus and everything was going so good. After months of hounding me, I conceded and agreed to move back to PA. We had a week between house settlements and took our 2 daughters to OBX. The second day there, I found out my husband was having an affair (not the first time). I was devestated. I left him (as I had threatened to do if this ever happened again). In one swift blow, my family broke up, my daughters were unconsolable, and I literally think I lost my mind. That was 8/5/05. I went back to working in PA at the hospital I left. My best friend called me one night, and we fought over my choice to leave my husband. I was in so much physical, emotional and mental anquish, I did it. I took narcotics and injected. It was like I was on the outside looking in. I wasn’t good at it, because I soon got caught. I enrolled in the PA drug program and kept my license. However, I went back to WVA 3 days a week, without telling them about PA, and was working. I started injecting there. My life was hell. I soon got caught again. I was living in Baltimore with my parents at the time. WVA suspended my license and I then let them expire because I knew I wouldn’t be using it there again. I then got a job in MD because I did not have any marks on my PA license because I was active in their program. I worked 8 months without using,…then my divorse papers came. I starting using again and again got caught. That was July 2007. I haven’t worked for a year. The Nursing board finally caught up with me. I have to go before the board soon…I am embarrassed and humiliated. But, I want to keep my license. I have been clean for a year, but not in a program. Im not sure what to do. I called the Board of Nursing and left a message for the Substance Abuse person to call me back, and she never did. Where do I go from here? Should I obtain a Lawyer to take with me? I need help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You


  14. dede Says:


    I’m glad you wrote, you have been through so much.
    Our disease of addiction makes us act outside our moral selves and even though we try to stop we can’t without help.
    You don’t mention going to treatment, that’s where our new lives can really begin. We need education related to what has happened us, our bodies, our brains. We need the help of professionals because most of us are ignorant about addiction.
    In an attempt to make everything right for everyone else we lose sight of our own needs and make bad choices that we can’t control. Begin with the first step of entering treatment – if your board action comes up while you’re in treatment ask for a continuance, perhaps you need the advise of a lawyer if you were in CT I’d say absolutely.
    Embarrassment, humiliation and shame are so normal and thankfully temporary – this is a process not an event – so do the next right thing and hold your head up, you have a disease and you need to manage it with the help of professionals – would you hang your head in shame if your disease was diabetes???? No one will ever judge us harder than we judge ourselves.
    I have asked the site to give you my personal email in the event you want to ‘talk’ more.
    Email me

  15. Angela Says:

    Hello. I am not an RN. I am asking this question in regard to my niece, who is an RN. I found out something by accident while surfing the web. I have known for some time that my niece is a recreational pot user. I do not approve, but she is an adult and has to make her own choices, right or wrong. I found out that she tested positve during a random drug screen at the hospital she is working in. I am heart sick. I feel like slapping her and hugging her at the same time. She is living in another state but would like to come back to her home town some day. She is such a good nurse! I had the oppurtunity to see her work as she flew home during the holidays to give hospice care to a family member. Does this disiplainary action mean she will not be able to get her license back in her home state? Thanks 🙁

  16. jenny Says:

    So sorry about this issues. My dear friend has just be caught in this situation. She and I work together and I feel stupid for not even seeing the problem. What kind of friend and nurse am I? My heart aches for my friend and want to help her.

  17. douglas Says:

    I am a nurse in recovery. I was stipulated by the board 3 yrs ago. I can’t find a job. What do I do. Is there common places that hire stipulated nurses?

  18. Heather Says:

    well I thought life was good. I have been in recovery for a year and was going before the nursing board to petition to get my license back when I get a sopena to court for drug diversion. Not only that, they are charging me with three counts for each additional diversion, 12 in all. So for all of you who are worried about your nursing license, you may have bigger problems to worry about as I do… like….prison, a felony which will prevent me from working anywhere that medicaid or medicare is accepted, which is EVERYWHERE. So if I do get it back…it might not matter anyways. I never heard of anyone going to jail for diabetes. I feel that I am being punished for being sick, which really bites. I know I screwed up. I accept the responsibility for my actions, but I’ve gotten so far in recovery and feel as if I am being kicked when I’m down. Oh well, one day at a time I guess. Accept the things I cannot change…..

  19. Jack Stem Says:

    As peer assistance advisor for Ohio’s nurse anesthetists, I get phone calls and emails regarding this topic every week. I wish there was an answer that was consistent for everyone dealing with this issue. Unfortunately, right now in Ohio everything is very vague. The Ohio Nurses Association and the Ohio Board have no definitive answers for nurses with substance abuse or chemical dependency problems. While the American Medical Associations accepts CD as a disease, our “learned” colleagues on the board of nursing don’t seem to agree with that definition. I am working with my colleagues at the state and national level to deal with this problem. We are making slow progress.

    Right now, it seems discipline has taken precedence over treatment. We hope to get that changed in the future.

    Jack Stem

  20. jc Says:

    I am a registered nurse that had open heart surgery in 2006 at the age of 46. Because of my workplace and finances, I had to go back to work after being off for only 5 weeks. Although my incisions healed, I convinced myself I needed my pain medication way beyond what is considered normal. When I couldn’t convince my doctor to renew my prescription, I stole from work and was fired. I self reported to Pennsylvania Health Monitoring Board and enrolled in addiction program. I am under the Boards guide for the next 3 years, and still face disciplinary action. The problem is, I have been cleared to go back to work 6 months ago, and have not found a place willing to give me a second chance. I was wondering if you had any advice. This is not a cheap program with bimonthly urine tests that I pay out of pocket. I have been very honest in interviews with my addiction and recovery, and have one misdemeanor theft charge on my record. What are my chances for employment from your knowledge of situation? Any help would be appreciated as I am losing heart and considering letting my license go if I can’t find employment soon. thanks, jc

  21. Catmom Says:

    Hi JC-

    Don’t despair! There have been many nurses in your shoes who have found work. I am an administrative RN in a nursing home with about half of my 5 years of probation left to go. Honestly, I have a better job now than I have ever had even before I got in trouble.

    A good place to try for work is at dialysis facilities (no narcs there, generally), the Red Cross, and long term care facilties. I advise that you sell yourself just like normal in interviews and AFTER you have impressed the interviewer with your knowledge, experience, etc, THEN tell them of your license status. No need for gory details & keep it simple & honest. Emphasize that you have dealt with your “issues” and are ready to be a productive worker now.

    There is a good forum about recovering nurses on and there is a voy forum called “Real Recovering Nurses” that can offer you more advice & support.

    Don’t let your sense of shame defeat you and you WILL survive this crisis and remain a nurse. Good luck.


  22. Matt D Says:

    Well Hello my fellow dope feinds!

    I am so happy I found this site. My story is quite typical; multiple painful minor surgeries, percs; multiple back and shoulder injuries, vics; Kid gets cancer; whatever it took to kill the feelings.
    20 years of ER nursing…flushed.
    In the two months before the axe fell I successfully ran a code on the floor (no docs or code team available), delivered a baby (docs tied up with code) precepted and taught classes. All while either in withdrawal (then a daily occurence) or on more drugs than our worst of drug seekers ever got.
    I am in the SARP (the MA alternative to d. program) and have been clean and sober for over 18 months.
    It was soooo good to find the professional group that I meet with each week…whatever stage of the disease/professional struggle you are in it is to be sure that someone else has faced it in that room and survived.
    Patience and humility have turned a disaster into a godsend. It is so rewarding to just wake up and not be filled with fear and shame. There is a way out of the mess, but it takes some time…

    PS: Read patty’s book (Walking like a Duck) it has very little to do with acutal ducks, more to do with human nurse addicts.

  23. louise Says:

    HI, I am so happy to hear of your recovery. I am currently under investigation for diversion. I am just wondering if you know anything about mass. Do they have a program and how likely will I have criminal charges. I am so scared. I am really disappointed in myself. I have let soooo many people down. I am afraid I will loose everything. please pray for me…..

  24. Karen Koeberl R.N. Says:

    Hi I am a new nurse just starting out. I could never see myself taking drugs from the hospital I work at, but I sympathize with the situation you are in. I’ll pray for you’re recovery.

  25. Karen Koeberl R.N. Says:

    I really will pray for you!!

  26. laura Says:

    I can relate. I’m currently in Diversion. I’ve been a great nurse for nearly 30 years, and only this year became massively addicted to IV opiates. It happened fast and hard, and while I did lose my job over it I think it may be one of the best things that could have happened to me. I’ve needed to ‘recover’ from alot more than drugs in my life, and this is the opportunity to do so. I also think that I’m quite finished with nursing at this point. Its like everything that happened finally gave me the permission to grow that I could not give myself. I have a Masters Degree in Nursing-and I dont have to have an active RN to put MS on any resume…
    I’m on disability right now, and stopping to take care of myself. In California you can get disability for up to one year for substance abuse problems (there is an ICD9 code for it..). I would suggest that those of you who are unemployed or perhaps need to be for a little while, check into your states laws regarding the disability, find a primary care doc who understands these issues, and if you can get it-do so! We owe it to ourselves to stop and take care of ourselves for a change.
    I never in my life-and I am now almost 50-would have dreamed I would take drugs from my workplace. In fact, it still blows my mind how I fell into that loop so quickly. I am glad its over. I think I wanted to get caught subconcsiously. I will have to say that I never took my patients meds per se-they always got their meds..I just started taking it out for myself..blatantly..wondering when someone would freakin notice.. So, chin up everyone-you and I are exactly where we need to be right now. Have faith in something greater than yourself!

  27. jenny Says:

    i just went to ask for counselling from a Specialist drug and alcohol support service in uk re. my having smoked a class A drug reguarly for a while outside of work.I explained in great depth that I love my work and on no account did I want to jepordise my registration.Instead of being offered any help, I had a phone call from them saying that they were going to disclose my problem to my occupational health dept and that may lead to them informing the UK nursing Board unlessI told my workplace what I had done.Any advice for an Enlish nurse would be appreciated

  28. Anne, RN Says:

    My heart goes out to each and everyone of these nurses and for all people with the disease of addiction who haven’t been able to seek treatment. Your disease is poorly recognized as a disease and thought of more as a weakness, so therefore, it’s difficult to get treatment and worse, be treated with compassion. You would never be fired for being Diabetic.
    I pray that each of you recover and receive fair treatment. I hope all judging you, use the compassion that we as nurses give our patients everyday.
    May God bless you all.

  29. maey Says:

    Dede – Finding your article, could not have happened at a better time for me. My sister has the problem, but this has become a family problem and I am sick and scared for all involved. Do you still answer these comments? I need help or where to look for help asap. Should I continue? maey

  30. Melissa Says:

    Dede…thank you so much for your article. You have answered so many questions for so many people. I do have a question for you regardeing the alternative to discipline program. I would be so greatful for some advice on the matter. First, my story, I too am a recovering addict. In 1998 my 18th birthday present was breast inplants. The surgery did not go well to say the least. I was on vicoden and oxycotin for an extented period of recovery time. That surgury led to a 7yr addiction to any and all pain meds. My mind and soul was under complete control by the drug. I became a dental assistant in 2002-2004 writing scrips and calling them in, that is how I keep my habit going. I was so confused and ashamed while doing this because my husband was a Denver police officer. He knew of my addiction he just did not know how bad it was, yet. I was caucht in 2003 by the dentist I had been working for, for a year and that is when the felonies started and so did my treatment. I lost my job, husband, daughter, home, well my whole life in 2005. I did go to jail and obtained three Felonies in a matter of 2 months in 2003 my addiction to oxycotin spun out of control. Today, I have completely changed my life. My ex husband and I are currently dating and working on a new life as a healthy active family. I am so blessed God gave me back everything I lost. Now, I am on a mission to become a Rn. I want nothing more to help addicts and their families. Classes start in June2008 (RN_BSN). I have been researching nursing and felonies to make sure I can test and obtain a rn license. My question to the Alternative to Discipline Program is, does this program apply to persons that already have felonies. (ME)Thank you God Bless

  31. jody daxon Says:

    i loved your article. and i am glad u could keep your job. my frustration is that with all the hype about the nursing shortage. there are so many recovering nurses who would love the chance to work again. there is no support for nurses who are impaired, you spend your whole life working and helping others and then when u need help for the same issues, you are abandoned and left alone to suffer alone, no one wants you nor will they talk to you. you find yourself snubbed by those you worked closely with for the last 10-20 yrs. you have no friends and are basically on welfare. looking for a chance to make a comeback, only no one in the healthcare system will even look at you. why are we different from those we helped, why are outcast from society. we can overcome our addiction just like the ones we detoxed over the years and supported, we too can claim our victory. the system we loved and supported and worked so hard for. they system we believed in has let us all down, after your admission and after the investigation you are sentenced by the board, probation, suspension fines. you complete everything, random drug screens, therapy in hopes of getting your license back and go back to work, hoping for support of your coworkers and freinds only to find total rejection from everyone, resumes lots of resumes, phone calls interviews they all love you, then you tell them your story even after they have said we want to hire you, then all of the sudden the looks come over them and they resind there offer. now what, you try to get hired without telling anyone in hopes of gaining employment, but what u dont know is that you are put on a federal list of disciplined nurses. even though your license is clean it will show up on this list for ten years from the date you started your probation, it all sounds to sad, there would be no nursing shortage, the shortage of hiring if the people who help other people could just recognise the fact that we are people too and sometimes we need help. no one is perfect. we are suppose to be superior. then why cant we be superior in the fact we recognise and help each other that is what healthcare is about helping others. its not about rejection. u can work privately for yourself. or you can maybe work longterm care, but very rarely will you ever be supported and welcomed back into the society of nursing.

  32. Grayson Says:

    HI, I recently admitted to the police that I took Demerol..actually i didn’t end up taking it..but attempted, realized my mistake, and replaced it. I did not do this for my own use..i did this because I am in an abussive relationship and the father of my children threathened me. I brought him home Normal saline instead. The pharm found out the vials had been tampered with, and me being scared and confessed..(i knew they would have no proof i did it) but i got today i sit here and wait for the Trooper to get in touch with me to tell me my fate..will i be arrested? I lost my job and even though my boss was understanding, she told me she had to inform the BON…what will happen to me? This is Michigan…will i face felony charges if i didn’t take the medication? Will I lose my license when i was scared for my own safety and that is why I even THOUGHT about taking it? If someone knows the answers please help relieve my sick stomach. I am a single mom trying to support my two wonderful boys..I am ashamed of what i have done, and will never feel pressured to do it again..i just want to get away from this man and away from this town. But my RN degree was all I only abiality to leave and be able to afford it…what do i do?

  33. Mr Ian Says:

    Grayson – it sounds like you’ve been doing it tough for a while.

    First (and last really) – get legal advice.

    But for what it’s worth –
    Make the decisions you need to make.

    Make the changes you need to make to make the decisions happen.

    And mostly; make peace with yourself. You’re not stupid – just lost and confused maybe.

  34. Katy B Says:

    Grayson my dear:
    I have been through the same thing, only the drugs were for me, not a man. I have met and spoken with a lot of other nurses who were in the same situation.

    First off..get a lawyer. I know it sounds harsh, but don’t say or write anything to anyone.

    As far a legality goes, I got prosecuted. I know a lot of nurses who were NOT prosecuted..they may have been fired, but their bosses let them off the hook.

    Your nursing license is another matter…I live in Wisconsin and the state board here has a program for people like us and it allows them to keep their licenses (and their livlihood) with some restrictions for a few years. The particulars are different for everybody, depending on the circumstances and how the board rules.

    This is serious stuff, my dear, but it’s not too late to get yourself out of hot water. Be strong, hold your chin up (literally) be honest, and PLEASE let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I would be willing to talk to you either in person or via e-mail. I know alot about what you are going through and I can give you some really good advice. XO Katy

  35. Grayson Says:

    Thank you both (Mr Ian and Katy B) for your encouragement! You just don’t know how much I appreciate it. So far I have not heard anything from the police. My ex boss told me she wasn’t going to press charges, but who knows if the prosecutor or Pharm will do so. I was going to reapply for my TN lisence..I let it expire two yrs ago..I’m wondering if I do that, before anything happens to my MI license, If i would be able to get outta here and start over. Get away from this man and start a new life. Would MI BON inform TN? Or what happens if I don’t put down that I had a license in MI? I know this sounds bad..Im just trying to do what i can. Katy B I would love to talk more about this with you! It’s so great to know I’m not alone. I’m not sure what MI has to offer for Nurses who go through this…if I’d be allowed to keep my license. How would I find that out?

  36. Mr Ian Says:

    If there are no charges brought against you at this stage then I don’t think you are required to declare anything.
    However if you are under formal investigation for the theft (of some normasol?) or tampering with a controlled drug – then you’re better to admit to it with the BoN rather than them find out at a later date.
    I’d be surprised (and disappointed) if the police/prosecution took the matter further as there’s little to be gained from it.

    If I were you – pack up and go anyhow.
    If you’re in trouble with MI BON, you’re in trouble with TN BON anyhow… if you’re not – then you’re not with either of them – so that’s no different wherever you are and shouldn’t hold you bakc form making a much more important decision:
    If you’re in an abusive relationship and you have an opportunity to get out of it – take it.

  37. J.D. Says:

    I too have been an R.N. for 15 years. In 2005 I added refills to a legitamite prescription and got caught. I received a $1000 fine, a misdameanor for attempted illegal processing of a drug document and was put on probation for 2 years. I was upfront and honest with my employer of 15 years and for this they initially gave me a leave of abscence and then while I was in an outpatient drug program my supervisor fired me over the phone. Here I was an R.N. with a B.S.N. who worked in I.C.U. and Telemetry step down as a Charge Nurse and a preceptor and now because of a mistake outside of work I am being told I can no longer work for this hospital or any of it’s affiliates. Living in Ohio I was able to enroll in the B.O.N. alternative program where I was sober for 2 years, however in 2007 I had a relapse and was kicked out of the program. At this time I enrolled in my second outpatient rehab. Before my relapse I worked in an Internist office and then in a long term care facilty. Like many others before me it took a LONG time to get a job. We addicts are damaged goods and no matter how good are resumes look and we spin our accomplishments it’s our wreckage of the past that creeps up and ruins ANY chance of anyone TAKING A CHANCE on us. I know have to have 18 months of monitored sobriety by the B.O.N. before I can get my license back. Once I do this I will have permanent restrictions on my license along with 5 years of probation. It was very difficult to get a job before but with these even stricter and permenant restrictions it will be next to impossible. Initally, I was on vicodin/percocet for a back injury and O.A. of the knees. I have not been able to even start the 18 months of monitored sobriety by the Board because I had back surgery a year ago in which they fixed 1 of the 3 herniated discs. I still have back pain along with pain radiating down my left leg and partial foot numbness. I too feel like a failure! I am ashamed of myself because I did know better and look where I am now. I not only lost my job I also lost close friends and co-workers not to mention the respect from family and myself. I’m not sure if I am going to get my license back because I feel emotinonally, mentally and physically drained. The monitoring program makes you disclose your addition to EVERYONE! You can’t even go to the eye doctor without their approval and paperwork stating you are an addict-translation-LOSER! That’s how I feel. I can’t help but to day-dream ‘what if I didn’t do this or that’ where would I be now-better off or dead? I am currently taking online classes to obtain a Medical Transcriptionist certificate so I can worked from home. I felt like with my nursing knowledge base this could be a good fit. I just want to contribute financially to my family because I have cost them so much already. I am also torn with not getting my nursing license back since I worked so hard to obtain it. Is there not any jobs I could do with just a B.S.N. and not an active license? Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Also, I tried to find professional groups for support however, there would either be just myself or one other person that would show up so I eventually gave up. Thank you, J.D.

  38. sarah Says:

    What happens if you are fired from a job for giving out too many narcotics, and you are not a drug addict or stealing them. I was called into the office and told an audit was done and I came up as being the nurse with the most dispenses of narcotics in their past 30 day audit. we have a MAK system where we do the charting of our meds,which sucks, I have to admit I am lousy about sometimes slacking and overiding so occasionally things weren’t getting charted, so for that I am guilty. We are always told if it wasn’t charted it wasn’t done right. Anyways they fired me and said they have to report this to the state board of nursing in Indiana. I also forgot to mention to them while I was fighting for my job that maybe I came up as giving the most narcs beacuse I have been working 5 12 hours a shift a week for the past 2 months. I am sure they don’t account for hours we work in their little audit. I have to say I am very pissed. What do I do. What is going to happen to me. They didn’t ask me to take a drug test. I didn’t offer, I am thinking maybe I should go somewhere to pay for one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  39. Grayson Says:

    Well, I thank you so much for your advice…I wanted to update you in the matter that the Trooper DID get in touch with me via phone..he told me that I needed to bring in $300+ for my “fine” and give him my fingerprints..then of course he wouldn’t explain anything else to me…well i have been in the hospital (as a pt) for the last 9 days, so I have to call the Trooper back tomorrow..of course he was not nice to me..the fact that my drug test came back negative and the fact that i did NOT end up taking the drug, yet admitting i thought about it and explained my reasons..yet he was an ass! Just nice to me at the time to get me to admit to it! Telling me he “understood and went from thinking i was a pig loser drug addict to someone who needed to be protected….told me he would do everything he could to help me not get prosecuted…yet then he calls and he’s an ASS on the phone being sarcastic like he could give a crap…treated me like a junky…i don’t know…not sure what will happen from this point…i reapplied for my TN license…hoping that maybe i could luck out and get it renewed before anything happened here in MI..just so i can move away from my ex with my kids and start a new life…that is all i want to do..i am willing to do whatever it takes for a second chance! I just hope things go OK..I really don’t want to go to jail…what will happen to my boys?! I’ll keep you posted…and please know that your advice comforts me! I really feel less alone…and also to Sarah…if i were you i would get a drug test for your own seems harsh that you were fired for giving out too many narcs? I mean, You are there to take care of your pts! I really don’t think anything will happen to your license for something like that..but if you can find a legal place to get yourself a urine test to have on you and fight fight fight! I just think that the world today is crazy! With all the people who are addicted to drugs and all the media attention to it…i really think it makes our jobs so much harder..and a patients life so much harder…I once worked with a doctor who would not increase a morphine dose on a terminal cancer pt because he didn’t want her to get addicted!!! HELLO! Addiction is a HORRIBLE thing to go thru for everyone involved…but thanks to all the attention being brought to it, poor pts who REALLY NEED these narcs to live what life they have, can’t get them without looking like drug seekers…it’s terrible!

  40. nynurse Says:

    Hi dede,
    I am an LPN just getting into recovery. I was caught diverting at work. Charged with falsifying business records. I do have a lawyer and currently the only treatment i am doing is court ordered TASC program. My question is.. does NY have an impaired nurse program for LPN? I would love to get into a disciplinary program so i wont lose my license forever. I am willing to do whatever i can to stay a nurse. Thank you for listening

  41. Grayson Says:

    Katy can I get intouch with you via email? I would really like to talk more! Let me know if there is a way I can give this site permission to give you my email or what i can do, if it’s OK with you. Thanks so much!

  42. Denise Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! It is always helpful to have people you can relate to with similar stories or situations. I am reluctant to share too much of my personal story here but would love to communicate through e-mail if possible. Are you able to e-mail me or is there a way for me to e-mail you? Thank you again!

  43. anewmo Says:

    Dede…like so many of the comments i have just read i too am a nurse(LPN). I went to school full-time in 2005 achieving a dream i thought was out of my reach. I love being a nurse, my co-workers loved me and appreciated me when working with them. I would get choked up when patients would express their gratitude towards me; and so many times patients would tell me I was born to be a nurse or I seemed to have a natural ability to make people feel at ease and not judged. A patient that was from California home for her fater-in-laws funeral wrote a letter about me to the CEO of the hospital, I carry a copy of that letter in my purse. It’s like gold to me. For a stranger to think I am the best nurse she ever encountered… well that touches me in a way I never thought possilbe. I worked for the same co. for the past 5 yrs., I was nominated and won rookie LPN of the year in ’06. I’m not bragging about myself…but do believe I am a nurse that would not judge patients, compasionate and carng no matter your illness or injury.

    I am also a single mother of two that recieves no child support…I am also a women that has had difficult relationhips with men starting with my father. I am also an alcoholic and a drug addict, something I told myself I would never be because my dad was (haven’t seen him in over 17+ yrs) a violent alcoholic. I never wanted to be like him. My kids were never gonna grow up the way I did, well my oldest lived that life until 2004. I got sober and stayed sober for 2 yrs, my life was amazing. I was happy to be an alcoholic and drug addict because that diagnosis and it is a medical diagnosis led me to a new way of life. I was finally able to make sense of myself- I had a solution. For so many yrs drinking was my solution, my only coping skill I ever knew – it was normal to me.

    It’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason and I choose to remain anonymous at work because having been a unit clerk for most of my adult life in the emergency dept. I heard and witnessed what healthcare “professionals” would say about patients wanting detox again or overdosing again or being intoxicated and beat up again. They would be the patients that no respect was given to let alone the standard of care that was given to other patients. Judgements were made on addicts and alcoholics. So many times when these patients (my people) we being made fun of or ignored by my fellow co-workers – I would think…what if I told them right now that I am an alcoholic and addict…what would they say? What would they think of me now? In my opinion people working in healthcare, many of them…have no respect for this illness, patients are treated as “damaged goods”…as if they are somehow less deserving of the type of care that the patient in the next bed over with CHF, diabetes or any other chronic illness recieves from the same doctor or nurse. I knew I would be treated differantly, maybe not by all but surely most would not think of me as a good nurse, a productive nurse, a stigma would follow me. But many times I would disclose myself to patients, being oh so grateful…but for the grace of God, there go I.

    This comment is not getting to the point. In 2007 I relapsed, drinking again…isolating myself from AA friends and family. I was in a relationship with a sober man. I never thought he would fracture my mandible strangling me in a fit of rage not once but three separate occasions. My back was injured from being thrown down on hard wood stairs and I hardly could open my mouth to talk. I went to work the same night the first incident happens. Co-workers noticied my inabilty to open my mouth and I would not hold back the tears…tears from physical pain but more so from shame that I let this happen to me again. Having no defense…I innocently thought once, “it’s only 2 mg of morphine…it’s a waste anyways…if it helps this person for that pain maybe it will help me for my pain. And off and running I go…now I am using not only for my occasional pain but I don’t know how else to deal with the mess I have myself in now that I have taken a coule more doses. I can’t tell anyone, my mind would scream to me don’t do this…you have come so far. But without thought I did it again and again. My tolerance building faster than I can treat my disease. The shame, guilt, remorse was to much to bear and I know I can never tell anyone..who will understand? The physical addiction took over before I knew it and the drug and needle had control.

    I was contronted by my boss and a human resourse employee and I denied, denied, denied. Both of them said if I have a problem and willing to admit it, then there are programs in place for this, “we can get you the help you need”, “these programs are in place because we are aware that this happens to nurses”, “you aren’t the first nurse this has happened too”. Still I said no…Well they said if you didn’t remove it then we have no choice but to suspend you and start a FDA investigation. I finally confessed feeling the world lifted off my shoulders…all my emotions poured out of me, I couldn’t control my tears. My boss at the time was consoling and repeatedly told me, “everything is gonna be ok”, “we are gonna get you the help you need”. She said, “nursing is a caring profession”, “we take care of one another”. I was sent home and my boss called me one week later to come into human resources. I knew I would be facing some kind of discipline from the board but it never crossed my mind that I would be fired. That is exactly what happened. My boss wouldn’t even look me in the eyes…she was my boss for 5 years. I said to her, you told me I would get help, you said we take care of our own. I looked looked right at my boss and then at the HR guy and my director and said, “you are firing me because I have a disease?” “I have kids”, “I am a good nurse.” I asked about “the programs” they said I could go to and they slid me a pamphlet across the table and said you can go to employee assistance, I called them and told them we are giving you this opprotunity. That’s your program…I have already had my 6 visits for the year with them.

    This is turning out to be a novel… I guess I needed to talk about this…I was searching nurses recieving felony drug convictions and found this article, so thank you. I am facing 2 felonies and not sure what the board is gonna do, I did surrender my license and reported myself before my job finally got around to doing it. I am aware of the alternative program and praying for treatment in leau of conviction. I returned to AA and reached to the friends that tried to help me before… ironiclly I am in school for my RN…and now I don’t even know if that is what I want to do anymore. This semester I am taking 2 social work classes.

    Dede- if you actually read this entire run-on sentence…Thank you so much. You mentioned you are an advocate today and CD counselor. That seems to be a direction I am going in…not sure, just keep praying for God’s guidance. If you can email me I would really appreciate your time. I didn’t mention my state but you like to tell you where I live. Thank you for having the courage to take a stand for me and many others. Someday I pray alcoholism and addiction will be taken seriously by the field that I love.

  44. Allison Says:

    I’m glad to have found this article. I am not an RN, but rather am trying to gather facts before entering nursing school. I’m already an addict in recovery for 8 years now. There will be no hiding this as I have 2 arrests for possession from 1999 that will likely show up on a background check. Does anyone know if I will still be able to obtain a PA license or who I should contact to find out? I’d like to find out before I actually spend time and money on schooling. Thank you for any advice!

  45. chuck Says:

    I am a RN who has struggled with addiction in the past. I was able for a long time to keep my work and private lives separate. But they did inevitably collide. My license was suspended and now I am on probation. I have numerous restrictions on my license. I have had a difficult time finding employment. Do you have any advice about ways to find employment with restrictions?

  46. linda Says:

    We have options and choices in life, my dream has always been to be a nurse, at the age of 18 I obtained my LPN, and worked my entire life being proud of this special profession. At the age of 50, after obtaining my associates and BSN, I was sitting in jail, after successfully completing rehab and being sentenced to a half-way house. My crime was not patient related or even drug related, I drank and recieved 3 DUI’S within 1 year because of marital problems. I reported myself when filling out my renewal for my liscense, and since I was incarcerated, I couldn’t defend myself. When I got out and tried a lawyer from Harrisburg took my case and assured me I paid, and th eboard didn’t have a case..$10,000 later and out of a marriage, family, and a job…the board wanted to further disipline me, even with three years of sobriety, I will NEVER enter another treatment center again, just to prove that I can practice nursing safely….I WAS A GOOD NURSE….

  47. Queen Says:

    WOW! Does my stomach and heart hurt for all of you! I will try to make my story short and sweet. Agency RN, stole a lot of Demerol, agency told me “go get help, can’t work for us anymore.” So I just went to work staff somewhere else, of course the demons are always there. Texas BON notified, sent to TPAPN and was shocked at the disingenious meeting liasion who only wanted to talk about her husband and her dog. Got a new job, but didn’t tell them about TPAPN and quit the program. Eventually the BON caught up with me. They said to surrender my license and get it backin a year. Well… a lot happened in that year, so I applied for reinstatement in 2006 and got it! 3 years monitoring with stips. I had gone to rehab, no criminal stuff. Anywho, got a job in dialysis(where they were desperado!!!!) Never received paperwork from 3rd party to begin weekly UA’s, all my calls to BON were unreturned!!! So I blew it off. After 2 (yes two) years I hear from the BON telling me they are going to yank my license for non-compliance with UA’s. Lawyer time. Board actually ruled in my favor, 10,000 dollars later, so I started the UA’s immediately(by then the enrollment procedure had changed to online rather than snail mail) After 3 years of a crappy job, being treated like a leper and NEVER getting a raise because I was a “naughty nurse.”I finished my 3 year employment and gave my 2 week resignation. AMEN! I left the company and nobody said BOO. Imagine my surprise when I wanted to know when the stips were gonna come off my license and I was told that until I had completed job, meetings, and UA’s SIMULTANEOUSLY my board order would still be in effect. Of course, like the others have stated, getting a job is harder than speaking to GOD! Nobody cares about all my education, MD referrals, perfect attendance, YEARS of sobriety. I have stips so I am persona non grata everywhere! I remember how hard it was to get sober…staying sober when you can’t find a job is right up there with fighting your urges. I made my bed and now I have to lay in it, I know. But come on! Why does the Board have stips if they know you can’t find a job? Of course I have seen too many nurses kill patients and nothing happens to them, everything is swept under the carpet or blamed on the patient’s non-compliance. I made my mistakes, I learned from them, how long must I wear the Scarlet Letter?????????

  48. ranger Says:

    I was wondering if you had any opinion on my situation. I have been involved with a contentious custody dispute with my ex for the last 17 years. We separated in 1993 and divorced in 1996. Up until 2006 we shared all custody, though we were frequently in and out of court over the kids. Most recently I was accused of being an addict by one of my kids. After a year and a half of litigation, my kid’s step mother informed the BON that I was court ordered to have random drug testing. What the order actually stated was that my ex had the right to randomly drug test me 12 times per year at his expense. This was something that my ex and I came into agreement in order to settle the dispute and keep it from going to trial. Well, now I am facing losing my license. Any thoughts?

  49. jesse Says:

    These sorry *ss nursing boards need to get educated. Who oversees them? Who is in charge of them? They are a bunch of ignorant fools! Someone needs to regulate what THEY are doing! It is criminal and unamerican the way they are treating our nurses!

  50. louise Says:

    I live in the state of Colorado and was choosen to do a drug test due to “behavioral changes, not being focused” accourding to one other staff member, but that was all it took. My drug test came back postivie for dilaudid. The night before beging tested I took two of my friends 2mg PO dilaudid pills. Percocet also came up, but I have a prescription for that. I am so frighten I will loose everything. My job is my life.
    and I have more to confess. In the past I have used left over vivals of Dilaudid to take home, only a hand full of times, but not mention of my count being off or not wasting drugs were mentioned when I was given the drug test. I have to meet with HR tomorrow and I am horrified. Will there be legal action, will i loose my licesnce and if not where can I work with a restricted licesnce. I will be running out of money fast. any ideas,,,, please help

  51. Missy Says:

    My entire life, I dreamed of becoming a nurse. I eventually was able to afford to put myself through LPN school, and I graduated with top honors. I then got hired at a long term care facility. It was a stressful environment, but I loved my job. I was extreamly dedicated and proud to be an LPN. Its a really long story of how I ended up here, but…In late 2006, I was caught diverting percocet from my job. I was fired, arrested, and reported to DBON. I was charged with 11 felony counts of theft of a controlled substance(each pill-is one felony count). And my license was suspended for 5 years. Thankfully, the judge gave me the opportunity to attend the drug diversion program, and if completed, they would drop all charges. I did successfully graduate from the diversion program 6 months later, and the felonies were dropped. I have been clean from the time I was fired from my job in 2006. I still reguarly attend AA/NA meetings, as well as weekly therapy sessions. My suspension will be lifted in November 2011. Do you have any suggestions for when the time comes to ask for reinstatement? Do I need a lawyer? My therapist told me she would come with me, but I just dont know what to expect. How do these things work? Can I go at this alone, with just me and my therapist, or is getting a lawyer a better route? I dont have the financial means to pay for one, but I will be willing to go broke to get my license back. After all of this…my dream is to nurse for an impatient drug rehab of some sort, and eventually get trained in drug counseling. Also, Delaware does not offer any type of support group for nurses, so another goal of mine is to start a support group for addicted nurses in my area. I appreciate any advice you can offer for my situation. Thanks for listening.

  52. jeannie Says:

    My story is a different one. I am a recovering RN
    and currently on probation through the Ohio nursing board. I found myself caught up in cocaine
    during nursing school. I graduated with no problem in 2006. I worked as an RN in a local hospital until someone called and told them I was an addict. Though I denied everything I was fired, I am pretty sure it had something to do with using with the DON’s son. I found another job at a long term care facility. I worked there for a year. Eventually snorting cocaine was not working any more so I decided to start smoking it. This requires hanging around with people who
    were not the typical users I had been hanging with. One night while using, the police knocked on my door. To make a long story short, I was charged with possession of cocaine and recieved a felony. I was sentenced to 3 years probation and enrolled in a intense outpatient drug rehab. I surrendered my nursing license. I am eligible for reinstatement in 2011. The BON would not let me do alternative to dicipline. I am currently drug testing randomly and when I do receive my license
    back they will be restrcted for 3 years. I am so discouraged.Where will I ever find a job. I am lacking the experience that I am sure they are looking for before my charges. I have been clean for 2 years and struggle everyday. Do you know any sites that allows recovering nurses to chat, because there is relief in knowing I am not alone.
    Thank you for all the articles. I feel for each and everyone of you. God help us,we will prevail.

  53. LMG Says:

    Oh boy,, where do i start.? LOL. RN for five years, have a Masters in Healthcare Admin. Had back surgery in 2008, by 2009 I was heavily addicted to Oxycodone. I wrote my own prescriptions for the drug and went from never having a speeding ticket to 18 felony charges in jail. I am now in Floridas felony drug court, which will drop the charges at the end of the program. I am 6 months clean. I am just starting to deal with the board now. Even though I am unsure if I want to go back to nursing. My criminal record will be expunged, so I may just leave nursing. The Board does have a great diversion program down here. The problem is finding employment. thats seems to be next to impossible. But, the reason that I can peacefully LOL now. I am clean and sober and I feel great. The job, the license and all that other stuff mean nothing when you are fighting for your life against addiction. I nearly and probably shoud have died. I have turned my life over to God and work the twelve steps with my sponsor. I have peace and serenity. So now, whatever is supposed to happen will. God kept me alive for a reason and im sure that it will all fall into place soon, Please, all you recovering or still suffering addicts hang in there! Its getd better. However, you must do the work!! Get a sponsor and work the program. I have met many nurses that have years clean and have wonderful jobs that they love now. Dont forget, your addiction is trying to kill you. It will keep telling you in the beginning, “your no good, you will never work again, go ahead and use again its your only way out” DONT LISTEN to it!! Please. As long as you stay clean and turn your life over to your higher power, things WILL get better!!

  54. DLR Says:

    Reading all of these stories has really helped my mental state today. I am an Rn in recovery, in a monitoring program, for almost three years and last week relapsed at work, had a “for cause” UA which of course was positive for narc’s. I have had that nauseated feeling all week and tomorrow I go for a meeting with HR, which will I am sure, to let me go. In a way, I am relieved. I felt trapped. Knowing that if I asked for help, any licensed professional would be lawfully required to report me, in turn, losing my job, I know this because I went to an addiction therapist, but would not reveal my active diversion because of it. But I couldn’t stop abusing at work no matter how many times I told myself, “Today I will try not to use.” I knew that eventually, something was going to happen for me to get caught again. I hate having this addiction. But at least since the incident at work, I have not wanted to use, which is big because I certainly would go crazy dealing with my job status AND fighting the urge to use. I went into this job thinking I could handle passing controlled sub’s, even did naltrexone injections to please my employer, but ultimately, the temptation was to great to overcome. Like an alcoholic working in a bar. I now know for sure that I cannot work in a facility ever again that requires I dispense any controlled substance. I do know there are jobs available without having to dispense controlled substances, yes, they are more difficult to find, and yes, there will be some rejections, but I have found that given the right employer, it is possible, and I look forward to working without the tempation staring me in the face all the time. If you are someone who is diverting at work, please do something about it now; quit, transfer to another dept. (I tried to, but didn’t get the position), talk with someone at NA/AA, because I GUARANTEE you, you WILL be discovered one way or another. I have never met anyone in the program who got away with it for too long. You may think you have people fooled, but the addiction is clever that way, telling yourself you’re o.k. and you’ve covered your tracks well, believe me, I was a master at it and I still got discovered. This is a progressive disease and because of that, it gets harder and harder to cover. I hope and pray that all this has happened for a reason, even though it is a very difficult time, to even do the day to day things. I read a phrase yesterday that I really connected to: God brought this to me for a reason and will bring me through. I sure hope so cause I really need some God love now. Peace and serenity all.

  55. Tara Says:

    I actually think I worked with the last nurse that wrote, my condolences on your lost, you were a very competent nurse and Im sorry you lost your job to the Beast, Supervisor.Good luck in the future, we remember you as being very strong, and family orientated, of course you won’t throw your children out. GOOD LUCK in every thing you do.

  56. Christi Says:

    I am not really sure what happened to me. I have been a nurse for almost 18 years, specializing in emergency medicine. I never once thought of giving narcotics a second glance until I recieved a nasty hip injury from falling off a ladder and cracking my greater trochanter. Ofcourse, I did not have the days available to take off work, so I was prescribed oxycodone. It made me feel like I could work for hours without pain or slow me down. Of course, as all addiction does, it took more and more to “keep up with the pace” of the ER. It seemed like it wasn’t helping any more so I started diverting unused dilaudid IM. And of course it helped trememdously until it to was requiring more and more. I cried when I used begging God to get me out of this viscious cycle. He did deliver me, I was eventually caught by a random drug screen and let go from my job. It was actually a sense of relief. I went through some pretty rough withdrawals and vowed to myself and to God I would never use again. I have been clean now for 4 months, with no desire to use again and experience that awful “black hole” feeling. I do ofcourse have issues with the Board now, and I am not sure what their action will be. My license so far are still active, however I have not nursed since March. I have been waitressing and trying to figure out if I really want to nurse again. It is such an emotional and physically draining job. Especially ER. I just pray that God will carry me through this and I feel that he will let me know if I need to nurse again. Where he guides me, I will go.

  57. M.j. Says:

    Hello everyone. I am a RN awaiting to go before the board caught for diverting meds. Anyone knows if their is a program in Delaware for first time offenders. I am only 27 and I have two children and single. I am also facing criminal charges. Any advice for job seeking?? What will the board do with me?? I am beyond scared! Can someone please help me.

  58. lindsay Says:

    I just received my hearing notice for diverting narcotics and am scared to death..I was confronted by my boss for discrepancies to which I admittedamd submitted a IS that was positive for coke and benzos I put myself in impatient treatment and have successfully maintained my sobriety. I found employment in a non clinical setting that protects my sobriety and know I can never work with narcotics again. My question is should I hire an attorney and what should I expect? I worked in Missouri.

  59. anamcara517 Says:

    Reading all the posts my heart aches,I identified with so many of you.Charge nurse on detox unit,30 yrs in Behavioral Health ministering to addicts/alcoholics,used cocaine outside of work got reported by someone at a party,positive drug screen,resigned from position,went to treatment,6mo later secured another job only to find out prior supervisor reported me directly to NJ BON,suspension.What got me the most this is the very population I gave 30 yrs of service too,helped set up this detox,won nurse of the year 2mo prior and my supervisor never even gave me the opportunity to refer me to the monitoring program which would have secured my liscense/livlihood,liscense GONE with 2 daughters I raised alone in college.Fast forward it is now 6yrs later and I am STILL trying to get out from underneath all this.Nursing was a calling to me,it was the only thing I have ever done,a part of me died.I lost my home,car,$10k legals,cost of treatment,5 yrs wages as RN,all in all close to [ONE] 1 million dollars everything combined to end up homeless,abandoned by all family and friends and worst of all treated like dirt by the very profession I gave my life to.I have had my liscense back for 3 yrs now am in a monitoring program,3 yrs clean,no narcotic restriction and no hospital will even interview me,when my liscense is googled it says “conditions/active” I don’t even get in the door as that is code for “hot mess addicted nurse”,go away.I have 3 more yrs of this,it will then be 9 total,I will be 60yrs old.I am progressing but very slowly,have an old car,an apartment with NO furniture,I sleep on an air mattress,no health insurance,no savings,no retirement,50K of debt.Don’t get me wrong,I am so grateful to be in recovery today and in many ways the quality of my life is better than it ever was but the shame,grief,loss,isolation,humiliation have taken it’s toll,I cry still almost everyday,I pray daily too mainly to let the past go[difficult when you can’t get out from underneath it]and lastly to forgive my former supervisor who in the blink of an eye,with 1 calculated phone call dismantled the entire life of a caring,dedicated nurse and her 2 daughters when care,compassion,help was the way to go.I didn’t deserve all that happened to me,my ‘punishment’ has far exceeded my crime.I only wanted and still need support,concern and most of all to be welcomed back warmly by my fellow nurses,to be gainfully employed without predijuice.Good God,if a Psych nurse certified in Addiction who is an addict/alcoholic can’t find a decent job in this field there is something seriously wrong with this picture,don’t you agree? Namaste to all my sister nurses.

  60. Danielle Says:

    I graduated from LPN training in 2005. Almost 3 years ago, I refused to take a urine test at the facility I worked in, they reported me to the Board of Nursing. Then a few months later I got caught shoplifting and was found with drugs on me. The Board also caught wind of that to, and so did Child Protective Services. I lost my license and my at the time 1 1|2 year old son. Now 3 years later and clean for 3 years also, I am still working to get my license and child back. I have had 3 years of clean urine screens, been through an accredited outpatient rehab, and attended my NA meetings, all of which were criteria on which I had to do to obtain my license. Now the board is making me do all that stuff over again, this is not right, I have worked to hard for what I had and I will not let it go to waste. It’s going to be another 6 months or more before I can get them back. Nursing was something that I looked forward to doing everyday that I woke up and went to work. I loved it, and I loved the people (I worked in the nursing home setting). Does anyone have any advice that would be helpful to me? I sympathize with every one on this board and only hope the best for each one of you.

  61. stooreise Says:

    I’m recently in a traffic collision, pretty much small, but I rear-ended someone. I was specified for Failure To Keep Assured Clear Distance. Its possible any reason I should not just plead guilty and pay the fine? It seems like pretty cut-and-dry.

  62. Kathy G Says:

    I am 50, been an RN 24 tears, ICU critical care, flight nurse, owned Home Health companies an infusion pharmacy and never a glitch of any narcotic abuse. Then I got laid off (1998)during a hospital merger, my daughter got pregnant, lost my home, car and almost my mind. Started self medicating so I could sleep. During my recovery my best friend in nursing school sent a letter to boards, that I had wrote to her spilling my heart,and ended up putting my license on probation and having to call for drug screen daily for next 7 years. Ended up being crucified by all the RN who looked up to me during my sucessful years. Who ever said that nurses were caring and missionists. Better hope they never have to depend on their peers. They still would love to see me fail. Cant get a job in any local hospitals. Anyone out there with a problem call your very best friend not a peer. Doctors stand side by side when one is in trouble. Nurses stab each other in the back running. I am trying to develop a nursing web site for nurses going through personal crisis. Nurss helping nurses.

  63. Kris Says:

    I am an RN in Maryland. I have been a participant in the board’s Rehabilitation Program for little less than one year. I was a med-surg staff nurse for 22 years. Since resigning, I have worked as a telephonic nurse educator and am presently a supervisor in a Long Term Care facility. I am so unhappy in my position right now. I was wondering if anybody had heard of recovering nurses being able to get their foot back into a hospital environment (general floors/med-sug)?

  64. rhonda jordan Says:

    yes i live in califoria, and yes nurses who are in recovery work in med surge all the time; im suprised that you want to work in such a physical job, yes i loved med surg too but at 50 im okay with a desk job!! but i am dealing with so much, they took my license july 30 2010 and i must wait three years to reinstate and that is not guaranteed! but yes nurses do work in hospitals who are in recovery, and these nurses are uaually better workers!!

  65. mirage Says:

    My wife was just informed that she was being relieved of her nursing duties becuse they say her charts do not match the narcotics that were dispensed. She is a nurse for over 23 years and a great nurse at that. We spoke and she told me that she has not taken any of that medication…she said that at times a doctor precribes a med verbably and she goes and fills it from the machine but the doctor forgets to put it on the chart. They showed her the charts and she remembered that occuring on some of them. She says that if there is any medication that needs to be wasted she will do it while anoter nurse is watching but at times it does not get signed off because they may be busy. I am her husband and I believe her. The hospital told her that they want to meet with her so she can appeal this….should she cancel thill she has legal counsel with her? This is her career. Should she inform the hsopital that she will meet with them with her lawyer? What type of lawyer specializes in this in NJ. If they find enough reason they will then send it to the state.

    I am here to support her and love her and I am trying to get advice on what to do.

  66. Allalone Says:

    My wife was a nurse for over 10 years. Didnt drink or smoke, always level headed and dedicated to her job and profession. She put her all into it, and thensome. I had had some suspicions that she might be self medicating , I would ask her and she would deny, I wanted to believe her, I didnt have any evidence only suspicions. I couldnt watch her all the time. We had different schedules. We had a great relationship. We where always open with each other, at least I thought! Well she hadnt been honest with me . She had passed away from an overdose. I didnt see it comming. Everything seemed normal, good, no arguements, no problems to think of. How could I not see it? how come she couldnt reach out to me? Did she think she had it under control? What happened? I will never no the true extent of her problem, only that it was enough to take her life. Here I sit and cry , wondering how could this have gone that far, how come no one caught to what she was doing, she was getting the drugs from **** and never got caught. What do I do now?

  67. janjonesw Says:

    sorry for your loss.But you cant feel responsible for this tragic incident.Nursing is a very stressful job, you must admit to stand up and say that I’m too sick to handle my job is a huge draw of the imagination. We need our jobs and our families depend on us so much. addiction a serious problem with nurses and the way that we are overworked(doing the job of 2nurses)and treated by management and patients with far more rights than we could ever imagine,It makes you wonder if chose the right career. we do whatever it takes to hold on to this self-destructive job. We take caffeine,stackers, and anything else to get through the grueling 12 hrs.maybe because it is unrealistic to expect so much from 1 individual. Some of us arent as strong as others and the fear and stress becomes too much. Im so sorry about your wife it sounds like she was a good nurse. It is hard to ask for help when you have so much to lose

  68. Allalone Says:

    I guess its an occupational hazard that is overlooked in the industry and not enough resources are spent to alleviate the problem. I just cant understand how she could get away with taking the drugs from work so long . There has to be more accountability for these drugs. It shouldnt have to go that far that some one looses their life.

  69. Danielle35 Says:

    Allalone, my heart is broken for you. I lost my dad and older brother within 6 months of each other 4 years ago now. Both died from addiction. I am an RN and was recently fired after being caught diverting at work. I was throwing up several times a day while at work from the meds I was diverting. My body was screaming STOP IT NOW- YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF! I didnt listen.
    Just kept doing it. Clearly addiction runs in my family. Nursing is a tough profession, long hours, burn out, and trying to raise young children as a single parent compounded it all. The day I got fired I drove home and will never forget the deepest most profound exhale I have ever done in my life, it was finally over. The next few weeks ii had some serious withdrawls, but slowly started to feel physically better. Emotionally, a complete mess. I a now facing criminal charges and discipline by the nursing board. It seems ive lost it all, except my life, and I know how lucky that makes me.

  70. Allalone Says:

    Danielle, whats the sad part is that no one saw the signs or cared enough to reach out and help you. And the fact that you could divert at not get caught til it progrssed that far is wrong. Apparently this is an occupational hazard that gets over looked to much. What will it take, how many have to suffer ? It shouldnt have to go that far. Its wrong!!!!

  71. Danielle35 Says:

    Thank you for the comment Allalone, needed that. Trying to stay strong, I meet with lawyer today.

  72. Kathy Reinheimer Says:

    I have been in recovery for 3 years and have been in the VRP through the PA SBON. I have been clean on all my drug screens and have not called off work, had an excellent evaluation, etc. My dog is on phenobarbital and I was half asleep one morning and went to give her pill, and I accidently took it. I know this sounds ridiculous but it is the honest truth. I immediately called my supervisor who called my caseworker and employee health. I have to restart the 3-year program over and am suspended from work while they investigate. I thought by being up front and honest and not trying to hide it things would work out. I am sure I will get fired and wondering if anyone has any suggestions. Thank you

  73. Danielle35 Says:

    Kathy, I think showing honesty should be rewarded not punished, I would get an attorney if you can. I cant believe they would make you start over! Best of luck, Danielle

  74. jessica Says:

    I did all of this i went to school scared out of my mind but figured why not at least try it was a goal of mine forever. so i signed up for nursing school did amazing .. the only thing i wassnt allowed to do was go on my pediatric rotation of clinicals but they worked with me ..i was honest the whole way through when it came time to get my license i had to go to the pennsylvania board of impaire dprofessionals where they did a complete psychological exam on me and i had to attend 5 meetings there and they decided that since i had 5 years of continuous clean time that was able to be verified and i got all of the paper work they needed it was no big deal..i did have to jump through some hoops bu t in the end it was all good. i forgot i was an opiate user got arrested 2 times first time probation and was dropped but due to this the 2nd one was unale to be dropped so i have a simple posession on my record. eventuall i can get it pardoned but i got my license and i got a job i was suggested not to go to a huge university hospital with this on my record until i had some experience and some time to back up my credentials so for the mean time i work at a nursing home mak e excellent money and im racking up experience and i almost got 2 years under my belt as a nurse so once that happens off to the big hospital i go.. and pray for a pardon but dont give up if its your dream keep at it..

  75. giovan Says:

    I have the same problem, a practicing nurse for 25+ yrs and an addiction history. I live in Delaware and there are no support groups here. I called the BON and they do not have the alternative to discipline program but they have a vol. treatment option. It would be nice to have a healthcare support group but that is non-existent here. If one was started, it only takes two people I bet it would grow. I am waiting on a call from the Dir. of our BON to rally support for such a group. I have real problems that I must face the AG and I will tell my story as it happened but to also gather resources and support to increase the awareness of healthcare addicts, get a support group started, etc. Any suggestions you can give me as to who I could contact in my state, ie. councilman, state senator, congressman, would be greatly appreciated. thanks. giovan

  76. Nervous Nelly Says:

    Everyone’s story makes me feel better knowning that I am not alone. I guess I did not transition well from nursing students to real nursing pofessional. I was at my job for 3 weeks when a work realted injury sent me to HR…which lead to a drug test (which they do whenever you go down to HR for work related problem. I told my nurse manager and the director of nursing at my hospital that I believed I would fail my drug test because I went out with some highschool friends (who are known for doing dugs) I got really drunk and don’t really remember the night. I do however remember taking some pills (which once i remembered this detail knew they were probbaly narcotics). Anyway…urine test positive (for narcotics and cocaine) lost the first job i ever had as a nurse. They said that they would not report me to the board….but they are. They said I should call and self disclose the situation which I plan to do. I’m so scared about what is going to happpen to me. Does anyone know what happens when you self disclose to Maryland Board of Nursing. When I found this out I had such a severe panic attack I was sent to the hospital… I’ve never had panic attacks before. But now I’m so depressed. I’ve worked so hard to become and nurse and now i feel like i threw it all away beause i got drunk one night and made a mistake. Any suggestions?

  77. Danielle35 Says:

    Nelly, yes you should self report to the board. Better they hear about this from you first. I knew I was in trouble, did not self report, I had hoped my former employer would not notify the board. I now know she was legally required to do so, as is your former employer. Inquire if you have an alternative to discipline program. Be proactive, dont sit and wait for what might come. I know things seem bad, really bad right now, but you will be ok, stay strong and stay honest.

  78. Allalone Says:

    What can be done to educate the families of HCPs to problem of Drug Abuse? Are there any steps taken to teach families since they often say that the spouse is the first to know? Are we as family members supposed to be concerned about this problem? If will live our lives trusting our spouse are we wrong? Should all spouses of HCPs be concerned about addiction?

  79. Sally Says:

    Allalone, I am terribly sorry for your loss. I have read your posts on another forum also. It seems that you are looking for someone to blame for your fiance/wife’s death..that others should have somehow known that she was in trouble with drugs.

    She was addicted to drugs and no one knew…unfortunately that happens all the time. She may have not been using that long and used beyond her tolerance and overdosed. I don’t know.

    No one else, yourself included, is to blame for her death.

  80. Allalone Says:

    Sally, Thank you for your concern. I am not looking to blame anyone. If I can do something to prevent something like this happening to someone else , so be it. The worst thing I , you , or anyone else can do is NOTHING! Do we let addicts hit Rock Bottom , or do we intervein? Education is key! Will addicts reach out for help? Do they think they have a problem? Hang me for trying!

  81. Danielle35 Says:

    Allalone, I think there is a general lack of knowledge amongst everyone when it comes to health care professionals and addiction. There is such a stigma attached. This issue must be addressed in our nursing schools as well in other associated academia. You are absolutely correct, something has to be done. We need to be proactive not reactive. I know many nurses who have lost their licenses who have now become AODA counselors. I have lost my license and have no idea what I am going to do. Once I feel strong enough I will further my education and help find a way to save our nurses and other health care professionals from the devastation of addiction. You are in my prayers.

  82. dede dwyer Says:

    This is my story and I’m so thankful that it has provided hope and strength to others.
    I would like to suggest an amazing book, written by my best friend and sponsor- the title is
    “Impaired” the author is Patricia Holloran RN. It was initially self-published and then picked up by Kaplan. She presents her story in a caring and at times humorous manner, never forgetting her gratitude for her recovery and support network. It confirms that none of us are alone in our struggles with this disease and offers much hope.
    I believe anyone posting here would find it helpful. I am going to try to check in here more often. I keep all in my prayers.

  83. Amy Says:

    I am just now starting Peer in Oklahoma, and even though i have been unemployed for basically months, i think it will be the best in the end. I am an alcoholic/drug addict. I have had issues before my nursing career with both but after my husband died in 2010 my drug addiction became worse.. I used that as an excuse for too long and it almost ruined my life, it did take my job, my house, my children and my license temorarily but it did bring me all the resources that Peer has to offer.. i have not began to look for a job, mainly d/t the fact that i cannot work right now because of peer’s guidelines i just pray it isn’t difficult when i do.. god bless all that are recovering, may God’s hand be upon you throught it all

  84. Sandra Says:

    I lost my RN license (California)in ’97 and have been to ashamed and scared to do anything about it. I have waited so long that now I have to retake the RN boards. I don’t know that I would be able to pass the tests now. I don’t know where to go to get any assistance with preparing for the boards. I really would like to get my license back again. I LOVED nursing. It’s really the intense shame that stops me. I was diverting Demerol big time and got busted and fired. I didn’t go to my board hearing due to fear and my license revoked. For me, it’s the shame. I still cry often over this. Maybe this is what I deserve. I really screwed up. I don’t want anyone else to go down my path. It’s bad news the whole way.

  85. know in my heart… Says:

    NCLEX review books are available ..
    Try Amazon. Live classes are a good idea approximately 1-2 weeks before. Don’t review the night before. Rest and relax the night before. If test out of your local, get hotel ….hot tub great idea. Go to bed early. Good Luck! You can do it!

  86. [email protected] Says:

    Hello,I was in a car accident about a month ago I am a cna..I am taking vicodin and flexerall and xanax..but I only take them when I get home from work..I do not overuse them or take more than I am proscribed..but I work the night shift and was in severe pain from a combative person who punched right where my injury was in the car accident…two nights in a the third night I was in so much pain I took one vicodin and one flexerall…unfortunately for me I doze I am facing a conference call from my boss her boss and hr …if they make me take a drug test can I be fired or have to go to counseling because I am taking pain meds…etc within my required dosage…not stealing and I am not addictive to them..rarely take at work…I work in the state of florida.

  87. [email protected] Says:

    Forgot to ask could I lose my cna license over this? If I get fired I can live with that…to a point but I just do not want them to turn me over to ipn stated that i was abusing my meds because I was not…that is my biggest fear…

  88. TJ Says:

    Hi Everybody., My story is just getting started. I got a owi and when the police surched my car there were 3 vials of narcotics that I had not disposed of properly from work. They then charged me with 3 D felonies along with OWI. They called my hospital and asked them to verify the vials of meds. The hospital immediately suspended me for this week and I am sure to be fired. Besides my legal trouble with the law I may also be investigated and charged by the hospital.
    This all just happened over the weekend and I am scared to death. The lawyer I spoke to said that he doesnt know if I will have to do jail time. I am going to loose my job, lose my RN License, lose my car and home and boat. I will have nothing and no income and will be over 10,000 in debt AND be a felon just because I had to much to drink and had not disposed of narcotics appropriately. Hard way to learn a little lesson. I do not do drugs and never have. Just lazy and sloppy.
    Does anybody know what will happen to me now? I am scared to death.

  89. Danielle35 Says:

    TJ, much of what will happen will depend on any prior ‘criminal’ history. Hopefully this is your first OWI. I believe this tholds true with the narcotic issue as well as far as any jail time and actual class of sentence imposed, ie..felony/misdemeanor. Your nursing license is in big jeopardy. You have clearly violated the nurse practice act. Perhaps your manager or HR already told you to self report to the nursing board, this is always much better than getting a formal complaint sent to them. Lawyer up for both the criminal and license issues. I’m sorry this is happening to you, try to stay strong.

  90. cheryl Says:

    okay here is my deal….i was already accepted into nursing school but then had to do the background ck. i had 3 dwi’s from 14-22 yrs ago. So,the board required me to take the MMPI, the SASSI, and get evaluated from a psychiatrist, all of which cost close to a thousand dollars before I could take the NCLEX exam.I passed all three and sent it all in to the the tx BON. Now they sent me back legal paperwork for me to sign without an administrative hearing, saying that I will be permitted to take the NCLEX but that I have to show that paperwork to all employers from this point on which states all the info about the 3 DWI’s. I am thinking that I want to now go and have the administrative hearing to show that I have been out of trouble, have passed all the required evaluations and testing and that because of that I shouldn’t have to show all that legal paperwork, especially when I will have to disclose all of the info on my application anyway. Does anyone know the type of lawyer that I would talk to about this? Also, now that I have been cleared to take the NCLEX and I can now reapply to get into the nursing school once again that I had already been accepted to,I am worried that I will go to school and then never get hired anyway because of my past. What do y’all think or know?

  91. NYRN Says:

    Having been in a program in another state, & being involved with the BON in NY, I understand all these stories. It is a crying shame that the nursing boards are so punitive—I do understand that the “public” must be protected, BUT, the people that sit on these boards also have to use the brains in their heads when dealing with situations of substance use/abuse. Mandating that somebody show any prospective employers legal paperwork for DWI’s that occured more than a decade ago is absurd. I believe that job applications have a question about prior convictions anyway, and exactly when the DWI’s occurred will show up on a background check—just be up front and don’t lie about it. I think the thing that irks me the most is the fact that all of our “dirty laundry” is publicly advertised on state nursing websites—if you Google a name, the first thing that pops up is the BON action, with all the gritty details staring back at you. We are the ONLY profession that this happens to—not to lawyers, not to airline pilots, not to accountants—-not even SUPREME COURT JUDGES!! And, they are some of the biggest booze hounds I’ve ever met. Instead of working toward a positive result, treating addiction like the disease that it is, and getting nurses back to where they can work independently, it seems that punishment is the preferred choice. And, instead of easing up the urine tests, restrictions, meetings & all the other B.S. over the course of a 5 year contract when you show yourself to be in recovery, it is almost like a game to these people to see if we can get through the entire term of the contract with such strict rules & regulations—there are no “rewards”. Not to mention that our own peers are some of the most biased, judgmental, catty & uncaring people around. And, what I seem to find is that the other nurses who are the first to condemn act like they have never done a thing wrong, that their past is as innocent as the driven snow. Those people often have more skeletons in their closets than any drug user ever would. Be that as it may, nursing boards, employers, support groups, sponsors, and everyone else involved in these types of situations have to realize that nurses, like all other people, have diseases and problems and difficulty coping with stress in their lives, and substance abuse DOES NOT make them low-life bottom-dwellers. If people would change their opinions from punitive & trying everything they can to keep a nurse from practicing, to helping a person back to what they were before the substance abuse, and not condemning them for being such “horrible” people, perhaps the environment would change. In other careers/professions, people with substance abuse problems are able to go through a work program that provides support for them, lets them take extended leaves of absence for drug rehab, and the entire company doesn’t have to know their history. BUT NO!! Not with nurses!! Let’s not only rat them out to the BON, let’s require them to get a lawyer that they can’t afford, let’s force them to pay for treatment they can’t afford, let’s publish it online so even their neighbors can find out, let’s tell every nurse that works with them so they can alienate them even more, let’s make them have to tell their dentist if they are having root canal…….it’s ridiculous. I guess HIPAA laws don’t matter when it comes to nurses……..People have a certain “look” of a substance abuser in their mind, like a homeless, dirty person, and don’t think of the professional nurse when it comes to their mind. The one thing I learned is that it can happen to anyone—if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.

  92. Brenda Says:

    My story starts aprox 2 months ago when I forgot to waste about 4mg of morphine. The next day I was told I needed to take a urine drug screen because of this. I took the drug screen and passed. That same day I was able to show and produce in the sharps container in the patients room. I showed the drugs to pharmacy and I was told to waste then with the house super. I was not written up or counseled, there were no repercussions for my mistake. After that , I was very sure I was quite convinced that I had all my narcotics wasted correctly. @ weeks ago I was called to human recourses and told I was being put on paid administrative leave pending an in investigation into possible drug diversion, It was a shock. I was off two and half weeks and then called in for a meeting today at 4pm to human resources. The DON was there along with the director of human resources. It was pointed out to me that some weeks I was less then others with my prn narcotic use and that another week I was way over the normal use. I suspect this is a week that I worked over 60 hours that week and that I had a patient that was requiring pain medication every 2 hours and my other patient every hour. I am an ICU RN. The DON sat there and stated several dates that my documentation was perfect and no discrepancies. Then she started off with dates that showed that I charted sometimes in the nurses noted but not the MAR. She said that a couple of times the omnicell shows I wasted more milligrams than what would have been able to be wasted according to what I had given the patient, the omnicell does not allow that mistake. She also cited a few times that she claims I did not waste enough of the medication in the omnicell. I had been very careful about keeping track, running my own narcotics usage report so that I was correct in my wastage. I would also waste then log back in because the omnicell will bring up an immidiate warning that you have meds to waste. I have a hard time believing that I have not wasted as much as she claims. I know at times it is easy to go through the wasting process with two people and at the very end you can think you are done instead of hitting waste now, you hit exit, I know because I one day realized this was the case and wondered how many times I might have actually done this and then it looks like I did not waste. I was not allowed to see any proof from omnicell print outs or showed ant Mars to show I did not document. I asked for a copy of the accusations that the DON was reading me and I was refused. She asked me to sign the last page of the accusations without allowing me to read the contents that I was signing. I would not sign. She commented on one time I had given Dilaudid to a patient with no order, not true, I pulled the drug out, broke the seal then rechecked my orders for giving the med, I realized there had been an order change so I wasted the dilaudid with another nurse and I contacted pharmacy to let them know. The DON also cited that twice I had pulled out a 10mg morphine vial twice when I could have pulled out a 4mg. The reason was that the patient was not getting pain relief , I received a verbal order to get some more morphine then back to the room the MD verbally ordered a now dose of 4mg. I thought we would go higher because the 4mg dose was not working so I pulled out a 10mg, I did this twice. I also had for years been in the practice in the ER to pull out a 10mg and mix with 9cc of saline to mix at a 1:1 ratio, where we often titrate to patient pain relief. I have been an RN for 18 years , I have never been accused of or counseled for improper charting or wasting of narcotics much less been suspected of diversion. I was asked several times if I needed to reveal anything. I said no but then I also stated that I had pain on a foot one day so I had gotten an open used bottle of lidocaine that would be thrown away and I attempted to make me a lidocain patch for my toe, I was told that this was stealing medication from the facility. I honestly thought that at the end of the meeting I would be written up, have to come up with a corrective plan of action and possible be put on probation , and even frequent drug testing if that’s what was required. I even offered a hair sample. NO, I was terminated. I was not allowed to see any of the omnicell reports or the patients notes and mars so that I could defend myself. Patient safety comes first. I have never been accused of unusual behavior or missed anything significant to patient safety. I am a very caring nurse and a good nurse. I don’t claim to be perfect with charting but this is too much. I don’t know what to do. Certainly there are other jobs but I take much pride into what kind of reputation I have. I am very well liked at my job by my coworkers, my physicians and most importantly my patients. Can someone please comment, I am very upset. I was told a letter would be sent to the board of nursing, I work in New Mexico and I have an Arkansas compact license. I have a 100% clean record. What do I do. I almost wanted to beg the DON to think about it and give me a chance to prove myself, but I kept my dignity, I did not become emotional, I just said thank you for your time and professionalism and I left with my head hanging. I am trying not to be devastated. I will address myself as B, ICU RN. Someone please resend, I need someone to relate to.

  93. Baron GN Says:

    What happened to you must be absolutely devastating on a personal level. I feel so sorry for the way that your situation was handled, they had absolutely no way of knowing or proving that you had an issue beyond that documentation described. I am simply a graduate nurse, but I do have a crim record of a DUI from 2008 before I even started nursing school, I graduated a diploma program back in June and it took the state (PA) 3 months to process my paperwork and finally they decided that I had a alcohol problem. I’ve been forced under threat of not recieving my license to say that I have a current abuse problem and enrolled in a treatment program for abusers. I have to do another 3 months of daily AA/NA meetings before I can even take my boards let alone be hired, pay 200 a month for urine screens and be monitored for a further 3 years. I feel so helpless and gamed by the system. Although my situation is a lot different than yours I can’t help but think we might share a certain bond that only nurses(or in my situation a GN still) wrongfully accused or unfairly maligned. I really hope your next employer understands and respects the dedication you’ve shown our profession and can look beyond your former employers pig-headedness. Best of luck and keep your head up.

  94. LongxnicuRN Says:

    Not an addict, had an accident, meds doc gave wasn’t working, friend offered “pot” to help w/pain (on Saturday) went back to doc (2days l8r) he changed my meds for the third time. Yea it worked, non-narcotic, yea I could function. Was able to return back to work 2wks l8r (was off work for a month due to said accident). Coworkers say “she’s doing meth” cuz I lost -107lbs doing weight watchers (I smelled jealousy). Hum, so I offer to piss in a cup. No Meth!!!! But of course the “leftover” metabolites from the 2puffs off of the pot (bout died choking!! Horrid!!). Long story short board doesn’t care how much documentation I have regarding my accident, my pastor’s letter, resume of medical mission trips, volunteering etc. I’m no longer to practice anywhere there are narcotics, must enroll into a peer program and face this horrible persecution????seriously??? I don’t get it!!

  95. LongxnicuRN Says:

    The weight loss was slow, took 10 months. No “diversion” in a NICU (that I’m aware of anyway). Accident was on Christmas eve last yr. Was carrying Santa gifts from the car into the house when I tripped over a new stepping stone my husband had just put in a few days before. Fell flat on my face, hands full of gifts I didn’t have time to break my fall. Fractured chin, multiple contusions and post concussion syndrome. Extreme neck, face and head pain (go figure!). Doc had me on narcs, didn’t help & I HATE being fuzzy headed, heck I don’t even drink! It just wasn’t working:(. So he finally switched me to meloxicam & tada it worked:)! My friend who offered the pot was going thru chemo for breast cancer & her husband had found some for her, in hopes it would help her. My husband and hers are friends & he suggested it to my husband who then in turn brought it home for me. I was desperate for pain relief!! I was throwing up ( which required to r/o bleeding) and nothing was helping:(. So I guess it’s like pregnancy, it only takes once for it to happen. the BON is cold, uncaring, calloused & political. I don’t feel like an individual person rather just another RN boxed into a category based on the common. Of course I lost my long time job at employer X and have since been working at job Y. Funny, I passed that drug test! Maybe it’s because I’m not an addict!!!???? Now I’ll get to join in on meetings that I have no reason to be at!! Why??????

  96. John Says:

    This is totally unrelated, but maybe someone can help me. I’m an RN with a license in Virginia. I was investigated for neglect and abuse of a nursing home patient in 2008 (Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Task force) I was found innocent by the board and I went to trial and was found innocent. The record of my investigation is on my license. I am working part time (only job I could find). Whenever I apply to another job, it comes back that I have a “hit” on my license, and I have already explained the situation on my application. Whoever works in HR is too lazy to read that I was investigated and found innocent, so its basically the same as being found guilty. This is ruining my life and my marriage. I’ve considered moving to another state, but figure it would just go on my license there. Any advice would be appreciated.

  97. christine Says:

    Ive been in recovery for 6yrs now and lost my rn license about 10yrs ago. I too fell into addiction using pain pills after a surgery. How blind and ignorant I was to this disease. If you knew me 12yrs ago you would have bet your life i would never ever use drugs. today i have 6 felonies been to prison 2x and have lost everything. most importantly the respect and dignity. That is what you have to remember to keep ahold of, if you let everyone steal it from you with guilt and shame then the addidction is the least of your concern. It has taken me a long time to realize that. NEVER GIVE ANYONE EMONUGH POWER OVER YOU, YOUR MIND, EMOTIONS AND HEART TO STEAL IT BECAUSE THEY WILL. THE ONES CLOSEST TO YOU WILL WITH GUILT TRIPS. ONCE YOU ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN EVERYONE INCLUDING YOUR CHILDREN WILL LOOK DOWN ON YOU. REMEMBER IT IS WHAT YOU ALLOW, HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF. KNOW THIS IT DOES’NT MATTER WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU IT IS WHAT YOU THINK AND KNOW AND DO WITH YOUR LIFE AFTER RECOVERY STARTS. YOU WILL FALL MOST DON’T SUCEED IN SOBRTIY THE FIRST TIME. IT TOOK YEARS TO LOSE IT WILL TAKE YEARS TO REPAIR. BUT NEVER NEVER GIVE UP. YOU WILL SUCEED AND WHAT A LESSON TO BE TAUGHT AND LEFT BEHIND. ADDICTS ARE SMART, DETERMINED, AND CAN DO ANYTHING THEY PUT THEIR MIND TOO. MAKE YOUR MENDS WITH WHO YOU CAN BUT MOST OF ALL WITH YOURSELF, YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE YOURSELF OR THE GUILT WILL EAT YOU ALIVE. MAY GOD KEEP YOU ALL AND GIVE YOU GUIDANCE TO SUCEED.

  98. francisco quirarte Says:

    Thanx for sharing your story here, and i’m Glad that i’m not the only one with a problem. I was using dilaudid, just for recreational purposes. i saw how my pts would just have a peaceful look on their faces after i administered it IV. so slowly i started too. first at home, with .10 here and there, till i was fullblown using 4mg IV it was just too much, i knew i had a problem, like many of us, i started using the Waste part of the medications, but soon i was faking pain for my patients,I was offering to cover for other popeople’s breaks just to go into their patients profiles and take out my only and sole purpose of my existence. I Went to Employee assistance program, got into a tx facility, and since i was self referred i was able to drop diversion after 1 year which i didnt work, and lived off EDD, i didnt want to go back to the same hospital, since i had so many restrictions, and it was hard for them to accommodated me. I found another Hospital, and i am on the floor no restrictions, and yes it’s awful, i relapsed, although i’m not where i was one year ago, i sure am on the way. I needed to share that because if you think you got it under control, you better think again, i am looking now for a non patient RN Job, because i know that if i stay around my drug of choice. I may not survive. Jails, institutions, or Death. I wish all of you a blessed recovery. FQ,(not my real name btw)

  99. bedpansnbroomsticks Says:

    As I read through the posts I am reminded how cunning addiction is. I too was in denial of my addiction. Before earning my nursing degree I had a history of addiction. You name it I’ve tried it. I had many years clean and then relapsed after a personal tragedy. I was terminated from my job for being suspected for being under the influence of a substance at work and improper disposal of a narcotic. All true but I denied it. I was never offered treatment and would have not accepted it at that time anyway.
    I found a new job and had no restrictions on my license..yet. It didn’t take long before I was in trouble again. To make a long story short I was sent to rehab to save my license. Two years later and I have relapsed again. That is the nature of this ugly disease. Although I used street drugs and have never used medications from work since before rehab, my job is at risk. I could get caught anytime. Addicts are willing to take risks. When drug use involves your job then you ARE an addict. I am attending meetings and seeking help.

    I have a message to all the nurses who deny their addiction: As nurses we carry a layer of shame that is unique to us. It is difficult to reach out for help. Our shame and feelings of worthlessness tend to isolate us from other addicts and perpetuate our addictions. Addiction is a progressive disease and if you are using and/or diverting, you WILL get caught. It’s only a matter of time. Get help before this happens. All the excuses in the world will not get you out of trouble when the proof is on the table. Most of us have children and families who love and NEED us. Addiction is survivable. The first step is being honest with at least with yourself. I encourage people to visit the site Med Help and check out the threads in the substance abuse community. Dollars to donuts many of you will be saying, “hey, that sounds alot like me”. God Bless.

  100. Maren Says:

    As a nurse I have a professional duty to be a patient advocate. (ANA guidelines). Addicted nurses are patients; just as a nurse with diabetes or heart disease is. The social stigma of being an addict is driving the treatment of addicted nurses. The nurses who are on a BON therefore have a duty to advocate to the addicted nurses. Most BON’s do not advocate for the nurses in recovery. When will those individual’s be held responcible for their behavior? For discriminating against nurses in recovery? The ADA qualifies substance abuse in recovery as a disability. This will not change unless all recovering nurses stand up for their rights. Just a thought.

  101. RNinFL Says:

    I was terminated on 11-30 this year for refusing a drug screen. I had been with my employer for around 10.5 years(only 2 as a nurse). I was taking dilaudid. The authorities have not been notified. Well on 12-19 I started working at a different facility. I thought termination was the end of it. I got a call from the DOH investigator stating that a complaint had been filed. I was advised of 2 options. Surrender my license or go through IPN. I have obviously chosen the IPN. The offices are all closed because of the Christmas holiday. I know that I need help and am willing to go to counseling, drop urine,meetings and whatever. I am worried that I will never be able to find a job again. I am sure I will have narc restrictions through the program. I can’t believe I let this take such a hold of my life! Not only have I hurt myself, but many people who love me as well. I am now trying to deal with the shame and guilt I feel over the whole matter. Can anybody talk to me??? I could really use the support or any info…

  102. bedpansnbroomsticks Says:

    Hey there RNinFL. I’m sorry to hear about all that has happened. Seek the help you need to get better and everything will fall into place. Ironically if you would have taken the urine screen then your employer would have been obligated to assist in your recovery. The main thing is that you are taking the steps to get your life back. When was the last time you took dilaudid? You will get through this and are not the first nurse to be in this situation. Take a deep breath and take this one day at a time. Contact your advocate in the workplace and explain your story. You will be given the guidance that is specific to the state you practice in. The main focus now is your recovery. You are not ready to jump back to work. You may need inpatient rehab to detox and gain the skills to stay clean. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Things will get better. Keep posting and let us know how things are going. Peace.

  103. RNinFL Says:

    Thank you so much for responding. I havn’t used since Thanksgiving. I have been attending a couple NA meetings a week and have found great peace and comfort. In addition to the narcs I was also smokin weed. I havn’t used since Thanksgiving as well. I should be getting my IPN paperwork in the next day or two. I guess I will have to go through the eval and see what my near future holds. I have been reading everything I can possibly find through online forums about IPN and nurses in recovery. I know this will be a hard road, but a needed path I must take. I am committed to my recovery and want to do everything necessary to comply with all the rules/regulations. I just worry that when I am ready, I will never be able to get a job again. I am currently enrolled in an online BSN program with a expected grad date of dec. 2012. I love being a nurse and really want to continue. Once again, I really thank you for responding to my post…….PEACE!!!

  104. Liz Says:

    How is it that Heroin carries such a huge stigma and recognition as a highly addictive drug and yet so many do not corelate any and all opiates as one in the same?

    Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of preventable death in America.

    Opiate addiction is real and its unfortunately a progressively deadly disease that has taken to many lives to date.

    As nurses we are at the forefront of this epidemic. We must stand up and recognize the signs and symptoms and save our selves.

  105. Ann Murphy Says:

    Can someone clarify the SARP in MASS. IAm going to tell my boss next week I have been using narcotics for insomnia. When we met the other day and I was questioned by security, I did deny.
    If I admit and go into SARP can I keep my current job?? I did understand the restrictions, but can they fire me?

  106. RNinFL Says:

    I have just received info from IPN…I guess it’s the same thing as SARP…In florida, you are not allowed to work until they say it’s ok. Since all this has happened, I have been reading post after post trying to figure out the fear of the unknown. Some posts I read have stated they were allowed to keep the job, but in a week or so were eventually fired anyway. I havn’t even signed a contract or went for the initial psych eval yet, but I know I’m in for a long hard road. I hate that I allowed myself to become a user. I have been attending 2 NA meetings a week on my own, and have found a great deal of peace. Although these people are not nurses they understand the feelings of shame, isolation, and guilt. I have faith that God will carry me through. Be strong and continue to post… We all need to help each other. PEACE and BLESSINGS for this NEW YEAR!!

  107. TNRESCUER Says:

    What a mind opening article! Too many questions to help with though. However, I will add my 2 cents for help. Get an attorney experienced in Employment/Disability. You would be surprised to find out the plethora of EEOC/ADA qualifications especially with the 2008 revisions that could help out on the work side, but as always your state BON could be a crap shoot either way if it has to go to them.

    I work in a state that is At-Will, as in you can quit at any time, and they can get rid of you at any time, except for the obvious illegal reasons. Declining a drug test is viewed legally about the same as a positive, quitting prior to it if you know your not going to be able to pass it with valid scripts could be viewed as the same unless your in an “At-Will” state, as they simply cannot legally say why, but sometimes they will, and you can sue them for it but again, again another crap-shoot.

    I have had a valid prescription for benzo’s, ambien, lomotil, and lowest dose hydrocodone for years, some PRN, some daily. Our school required random urine tests, and I was tested 5 times, and of course by having valid scripts, not a problem, and made it through school with flying colors and got my BSN and license. Problem is, I applied to a hospital, got hired, and “failed” the drug test despite having valid prescriptions, now am in a state of limbo waiting for them to say yes or no. I highly doubt they will say yes, however in either case, they are liable for EEOC violations related to a disability regardless as my attorney who is also a doctor is foaming at the mouth to file suit, but still does not help the problem of getting hired.

    Can one function as a nurse, doctor, firefighter/paramedic, police officer, and or pilot while on these types of medications? Well I can answer for firefighter/medic & police officer as I was once, and it depends on what the doctor says, and it almost always was paid time off. Pilot, absolutely not unless you fly fighter jets 🙂 The easy part about firefighter/medic, cop is there is light-duty/behind a desk, and nursing, well its difficult for a hospital to find a place to put someone without using their skills as a nurse when they are limited in what they could administer and or the hospital just does not want the burden of finding a place for someone. To make matters worse, they often think no one will fight them on the matter let alone file suit.

    Can you keep your job if you tell them? Absolutely, not only is current addiction (legal only) covered under the ADA, but past history of addiction or reasons for need could also be covered. Lie about it and have them discover it by random screen and its usually game over. Not having a valid script for something you’re caught with unfortunately does not qualify for ADA disability, but still does not mean its game over entirely.

    I really hope at least some of this helped, and I for one am pulling for all my fellow nurses dealing with this and wish you all the very best of luck!

  108. francisco quirarte Says:

    Hello this is just an update since nov 30th, I have been clean for about 20 days now. I am still working on a surgical floor. It took me a lot to come to a decision to stop using. I was very much an emotional wreck. my mom is sick with Pancreatic CA, and I simply couldnt be of help to her in her last part of life. It was helping me numb all my emotional pain. I couldnt stay stopped. I never thought i could stop, but since i went to a rehab about 15 months ago. I learned so many things, and started using the tools that they talk about. and my obsession has been lifted to use. although i am constantly administering dialudid, and morphine at work, I no longer tAKE ANY FOR MY OWN i’ve been able to have 20 days clean and sober. ITs beyond my knowledge. I have a new sponsor, I have been reading my big book. I started hanging out with other alcoholics/addicts. and i shared my story with them. I shared at meetings what was going on with me, and how my life had become unmanageble once more. but this time i knew about the 12 steps. so I had an idea of what to do. but couldnt totally stop. The only good thing about sharing in a AA meeting was the saying that you are only as sick as your secrets. so if i wanted to get better i had to share. I really didnt have to say the name of my hospital, nor my position in the hospital all i said i was a healthcare worker. I got on my knees daily and i still do. and asked God for his help, to relieve me of my obsession to use at work. not only one time a day but constatly. even before work, at work on my break. I know that I will never be cured, but I love my profession and i cant do it unless i’m clean and sober. since i used only at work, my moto is one shift at a time. some times half a shift at a time. there are times when i do stare at vials a bit too long. but I ask God for his protection and to relieve me of any temptations. i call people in my fellowship that i know will be up during the night, cuz its when i work. My sponsor suggested that i take a big book, the pocket size version, and i carry it in my uniform. Even though i dont read it. i reminds me that there’s hope for me and countless others. thanx i know its long. but i had to share this. well I wish for all, the strength to change the things we can all change.

  109. rninfl Says:

    Thanks for sharing FQ…keep up the great work….I know you can do it. As for me I’m still waiting for ipn to call and say they have received my paperwork. I continue to go to Na meetings weekly. I am going stir crazy not having any kind of job right now. I continue to pray to my higher power and ask for guidance. Just For Today!!!

  110. Danielle35 Says:

    Well it has almost been a year since my story started and just today I found out the district attorney plans to charge me with 11 felonies. As if we dont go through enough..losing our licenses, withdrawal, shame and guilt. My God when will enough be enough? Please pray for me. Danielle

  111. rninfl Says:

    Scheduled psych eval for the 23rd….hopefully all goes well… well as can be expected. Hope you all are ok and finding some peace.

  112. rninfl Says:


    So sorry to hear about this. What state are you in? I am greatful that my job didn’t notify the authorities. I know this seems like a neverending nightmare, but i have to believe something better is waiting for me. This may not help much, but know my prayers are with you. Keep posting and praying…

  113. Sonya Says:

    I voluntarily surrendered my licese Jan 2011 under alligations of Morphine abuse. I did use morphine but was clean when the alligations first started. I then began to use diluadid until Jan 2010. I have been sober for 2 years and I am now attempting to get my licese back. I would reccommend for all facing the board to GET a lawyer! Does anyone know if there is a Nurse helping Nurse program in the Temple/Waco area of Texas?

  114. rninfl Says:

    I feel so useless today. I’m just beginning the journey and am already wishing it was all over…..

  115. rninfl Says:

    Is anybody there???

  116. Danielle35 Says:

    Hello RNinFL, I had replied the other day but they did not post for whatever reason. Good luck tomorrow, dont be nervous. Everything happens for a reason. Hugs, Danielle

  117. rninfl Says:

    Thank you Danielle….. You have been in my prayers!!

  118. SuperNurse76 Says:

    I’ve talked to family members and my roommate regarding this, but I thought I might try coming to you guys for some reasoning/advice. Tuesday I was called in admin. office where they went over charts and pyxis system reports.Narcotics taken out that were not accounted for, basically, and medicating a patient too soon before they were due. Honestly, if its busy, I dont waste properly. I know that. I just throw the pills/syrgines in the sharps container where I know no one can get them. They asked for a breathalizer and urine drug test. Breathalizer was 0.00% (shocker!), however, I did tell the PA that was doing my case that I did use my fathers valium within the last 7 days, and also his Lortab. My father lives 7 hours away and my mom died a month yes, my father gave me 2 5mg valium pills (I would take 2.5mg IF my Melatonin wasnt working), and the Lortab just after the drive back home. So I know thats coming back positive AND I let them know that it would. However, it still looks really bad on paper. And I get that. I told them I can see it too. So I’ve been on unpaid LOA since Tuesday, we’re waiting for my urine to come back. And I dont know..I guess I’m just looking for some advice or sound words? The only thing I have going for me is the truth (which is basically making medication errors and incorrent documentation of narcotic use) and my character. I’ve put in holidays, overtime, I work full time afternoons. I assisted all staff members when we started using a new computer charting system. I didn’t even want to think of the MI BON yet..but I know realistically, I have to.

  119. rninfl Says:

    Hey supernurse,

    Sorry to hear about this, and sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I grew up in Mi…. I dont know how they are, but from everything I have read on here you might have to enroll in their assistance program. You will probably have to get a psych eval, attend meetings, take a medication error class, and submit to random ua’s for a period of time. They may also give you a narc restriction for a bit. Once again, this info is just what I have gathered from a little research. I am new to recovery and just beginning to try to pick up the pieces. I hope this helps… Keep posting and let us know how it’s going.

  120. SuperNurse76 Says:

    Thank you so much for responding :)It felt good, even if it was just to get off of my chest. Im feeling less and less worried (I say that now, just wait before I have to go speak with administration). All I can do, is tell them the truth, and willingly comply with consequences (assuming they are just). This has been such an eye opener. And I’m sure there will be more cases like mine in MI, so as soon as I know what the outcome is, I will be glad to post. Again, thank you! Love & Peace <3

  121. leftforgood Says:

    I was disciplined for diverting in the state of Illinois in 1987…I went through rehab and I returned to my job under supervision and all the testing etc for three years. Once I was released from supervision, it was freeing. I continued to work as an RN for the 14 years until I relapsed and was again caught. This time I was living in Wisconsin and was fired on the spot and not just fired…I was arrested. The board forced me to surrender my license. I am now inactive as I have chosen to leave the profession. I have three felony convictions as a result but was lucky to receive probation only for three years which I successfully completed…and during that time went back to school to start a new profession..of which I am successfully employed in and licensed in now. Leaving nursing was the healthiest thing I could do…I simply could not work around those drugs and not relapse. It haunted me day and night. Now it is not a temptation…I am happier and healthier and free..finally.

  122. Danielle35 Says:

    Thanks for the post…it gives me hope 🙂

  123. Josh’s Momma Says:

    I was hoping to be given your personal e-mail to talk about my nursing and addiction issues. This started while I was pregnant w/ my son, who has down syndrome. I was given a variety of opiates during and after the pregnancy for severe headaches and abdominal pain. There are not diversion or criminal activity issues. Prior to the pregnancy I was a new grad and have no experience dealing with BON. I desperately need some advice or just someone to talk to about all of this.

  124. seekndstry Says:

    Wow! I am so glad I stumbled on to this website. It is tragic to see how many nurses are effected by this disease, and wonderful to have so many people willing to share. I became an RN in 1988, a mother in 1989, and a drug addict by 1990. I have been thru rehab, relapse, suspension, restriction, relapse, and then indefinite suspension. When I lost my license the last time I thought it was my ticket to use all I wanted of whatever narcotics I could get. After too many years of oxycontin and withdrawl from when I ran out I admitted myself in to rehab 4 years ago. There I was reccomended by my addictionologist to start methadone maintenance treatment as I have pain issues also. I have been stable on the same dose of methadone for 3 1/2 yrs, attend support groups, and continue in recovery. I have worked in a bar for the last 5 years and I feel like I need to do more with my life. I want to try and obtain my license and work in nursing again. I want to work in drug treatment in some capacity, and I don’t think I should ever handle narcotics. In the state of Indiana I can not be a part of their peer support program as I am taking methadone. I have found where they have made exceptions for nurses in recovery who have to take narcotics for pain control but not any on a methadone program. If anyone has any advice or suggestions I would be grateful. Tapering off of methadone is not an option for me, and I cant tolerate suboxone. But I feel I take my medication for my disease just as anyone with diabetes or any other disease does…….lisa

  125. luvmuffin Says:

    “I want to work in drug treatment in some capacity, and I don’t think I should ever handle narcotics.”

    You work in a bar and are a day away from a drink and you are addicted to methadone. Time for some rigorous honesty!

  126. seekndstry Says:

    I couldn’t be more honest. Thank God alcohol has not been a problem for me and I have not had a drop in 4 yrs. I may have a physical addiction to methadone but due to the methadone I am no longer living the crazy life of addiction. As for working in a bar, it allows me to make an honest living and pay my bills.

  127. luvmuffin Says:

    Swapped one addiction for another. Go to a barbershop often enough, you’ll get a haircut. From the truest of true hearts, you are playing with fire, darlin, and eventually you WILL get burned. Don’t rationalize or intellectualize it- this is a matter of life and death for you (and me.)

  128. Donner22 Says:

    First diverted narcotics in 1985, a close friend (coworker) & an anesthesiologist came to my house,confronted me and took me to treatment. Finally got sober in 1987. In 1989 my old hospital hired me back in the OR, after the staff voted they wanted me back. It was such a huge miracle, but as anyone with substance abuse knows, it sure wasn’t a walk in the park.
    Long story short I stayed sober until 2002,when my 22 y.o son was killed in a motor vehicle accident. The day after the funeral I went to the PACU and signed out a bunch of narcotics. My MD husband turned me in to the hospital. Got sober again and still am. I got my nursing license back and I’m terrified that now I’m too old and been gone too long. I did ACLS,PALS and 20 hrs of Ceu’s. I study every night. Am I crazy to pursue nursing? I miss it so much. Any opinions?

  129. Danielle35 Says:

    Donner, I am so sorry about your son. If nursing is your passion, GO FOR IT…NEVER GIVE UP!!!

  130. bjtn Says:

    I am waiting for the ohio board of nursing to contact me due to diversion in oct 2011. I have history of fibromyalgia on narcotics for pain management. Diverted in 1998 before getting on pain meds due to pain. Successfully completed program. Have worked in case managment since 1999 and doing well for 13 years. Job was eliminated during recession and went to floor nursing. Big mistake, Due to increased physical activity pain level becaame unmanageable and diverted again. However I am now on narcotics for pain management. I noticed a post saying that someone thought they made allowances for nurses needing medication for pain. I thought I would have to detox to see if I can manage program without narcotics but don’t beleive I can do it. I thought I would have to try. IS there a way I can keep license while on my pain meds? I feel for all of you. I can’t beleive I did this again and have done this to my family. It is so humiliating and embarrassing. It is great to hear from all of you. Good luck!

  131. bjtn Says:

    Is RNinFl still there? I think I am going thru the same thing as you. Waiting on the board, waiting to know what punishment we face. Fear of the unknown. Have you heard anything yet? I just wrote along letter to my sister. Haven’t sent it yet. My family doesn’t know what I have done yet.

  132. Tadpole Says:

    Thanks for sharing, addiction is a disease, Nurses exposed and working with these substance are always on a higher risk . Everybody makes mistakes and my prayers to those still suffering and struggling from the disease

  133. IamSam Says:

    I am so glad to see this site!
    I pretty much gave up my my license in the late 90’s due to my addiction and not being able to stay clean and sober around drugs. I just couldn’t do it.
    I have been clean and sober for many yrs. now, but still have so much guilt and shame about not being a nurse anymore.
    Does anyone else feel like this? I do work a 12 step program and attend meetings, but this one thing is always there.

  134. Alli Says:

    I am a recovered nurse for eleven years now. I have lived my nursing life in hiding and she because of the stigma on diverting nurses. I have developed anxiety and depression fr this whole thing. My license is in good standing and have never relapsed. But as soon as a coworker finds out about your past , it gets gossiped to every one. They quit talking to you and slowly you get pushed out of you job or fired for something. This thing has ruined my life and follows me wherever I go to work. It will never go away since it is posted on the Internet for all to see. I think I have PTSD now. Therapy didn’t help me. Nobody understands until they have been there. But ten years later, this thing still follows me and I am ashamed and have low confidence. It never goes away.

  135. Debbie Says:

    Dear Dede, I have read your story and all the others. I to have fllen victim to addiction approx. 4yrs ago after a severe illness and taking the drug chantix for smoking in which I became suicidal from the side effects of this drug. My doctors at the time could not identify the cause of my suicidal ideations which were becoming stronger so I self medicated with morphine from my job. I recieved treatment when hospitalized 3 more times for failed suicide attempts and lost my job. I am in recovery now for for almost 4 yrs. I belong to an organization that keeps me from being monitored by the state and keeps my record off public knowledge. This organization costs alot of money to begin as well as monthly payments not to mention urine screening costs. However, I still have to tell potential employers that I belong t such a group and why. I do well in interviews but never get the job once they are informed. I am more depressed now than I was when I was sick I believe people just don’t understand the inner soul pain one goes through when this happens to you. I suffer from such humiliation every time I go to an interview. I don’t understand why I have to tell these employers any of this if I am being monitored so closely by this agency. I feel I will never get out. I can not afford this anymore but, I’m afraid to leave even though I can not imagine it getting any worse. Do you know were someone can apply for a RN job in CT. Please help, lost, lonely and broke.

  136. In need of help Says:

    Thank u so much for sharing your story. I feel so lucky to have found this site. I to am a recovery RN. Lost my job due to diversion of Percocet & had to surrender my license. I’ve been clean for 2yrs (after losing my job). I petitioned to get my license reinstated over a year ago & have been jumping through all there hoops. After seeing the boards addictionologist he put even more stipulations on me. I’m suppose to go in front of the board hopefully in Feb. One of my questions is should I retain a lawyer? What are my chances of even getting my license back? Thank u all for all the comments you’ve made on this site, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this journey.

  137. Kris Says:

    The thing that strikes me most after reading all the above comments is that almost every single person’s biggest fear was losing their nursing license. What about the fear of losing your life? I, too, am an impaired nurse in recovery for several years. My story is the same as everyone else’s. I hurt my back at work (in 2003), dr prescribed pain meds, when those ran out and dr wouldn’t refill, I started diverting, got caught within 2 months, surrendered my nursing license and went to rehab. After rehab, I was required by the BON to attend a nurse’s aftercare group weekly. That group taught me that the most important thing was to take care of myself first and not worry about what was going to happen to my nursing license. I know that’s easy to say, but unless you’re healthy, it’s almost impossible to be a good nurse, anyway. I was advised by a very smart woman that, even when I got my license back, I should take a break from nursing for at least 5 years. I can’t tell you the number of nurses I met in that group that went back in to nursing to soon and ended up relapsing. Take a break and take care of yourself for a change. I think that is one of the hardest things for nurses to do is to take care of themselves. We’ve taken care of others for so long that we’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves. The other thing that I think is very important to point out is that although you’re license may have been taken away, no one can ever take away the education and knowledge that you have. You’re still a nurse. There are MANY jobs still out there for you. While I took that 5 year break from nursing, I went in to medical sales. Tons of jobs in that field that love to hire nurses. I made about 4x’s the money as a nurse and no weekends or holidays!

    While in sales I went back to school and earned a graduate degree in wound care. 1 1/2 years ago, I went back in to nursing at a small, 25-bed, rural hospital. There were no wound care services for 100 miles. I wrote a proposal and the hospital allowed me to start a wound clinic. It quickly became very successful. About 2 months ago, a patient’s pain meds came up missing. The hospital knew about my history (I was honest with them before them before they hired me) and so, being the usual suspect they assumed I had taken them. I was drug tested and was negative. They still didn’t believe me. They audited my charting and found some errors (there is not a nurse on this planet that has not made charting errors!). I was fired and reported to the BON once again. I can honestly say that, this time, I am innocent. Because of my past history, there will always be suspicions anytime there are discrepancies concerning pain meds. This time, I am asking myself if having a nursing license is really worth all this? What other profession out there does one face so much unjust and undue scrutiny? I’m feeling regretful that I ever went back to nursing. This time if they take my license I don’t think I will fight to get it back. As I said earlier, they can never take away the education or knowledge that I have and I know there are many jobs out there for people with our kind of experience.

    The point of my comment is, first and foremost, take care of yourself. Get help for your disease. Worry about your license once your healthy again. And second, there is life after nursing!

  138. starlight Says:

    Love the honest article. The support offered here is great. I have a question, hoping someone might have information. I am currently in a contract(have 1.5yr left)in Michigan. This is non-regulatory, and no action on my license. I am currently working as a chronic disease nurse educator. My company will be working with NY, and I am going to be required to obtain a NY license. Does anyone know if this will be a problem for me? Will I have to do a contract with them?

  139. neverlost Says:

    God bless all of you for your being here. I am so grateful to know I am not alone and I have found an online community to help in supporting my recovery. If only I had known this site existed when I first tried to stop 2 yrs ago — there is so little information out there about addicted nurses. Self reporting is so impossible because of the fear of losing our livelihood and families and dignity and the shame of having diverted drugs. To Starlight — I am confused how you can have a non-regulatory contract (1.5 yr in MI) but still have no action on your license. If the BON is the co-signer to your contract then there is an existing note on your nursing license that is discoverable by NY until you complete your BON inquiry and record sealed and expunged. But if you signed a contract privately with your doctor or an outpatient rehab, without BON direction or information, then it is a private contract and would only be found out if the information was published (which of course, would violate HIPAA, but that’s another matter).

  140. FallenAngel Says:

    “When someone does something hurtful and wrong,
    they take the person to the center of town,
    and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him.
    For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done.

    The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD,
    each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness.

    But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes.
    The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help.
    They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up,
    to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is,
    until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily
    been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.

  141. neverlost Says:

    Please let me join your community. I am a nurse in recovery and really need the support. I have been clean only two months, I go to NA, I am starting to see an addictions counselor and an MD. I still work in ICU- critical care.

  142. neverlost Says:

    Is there anyone out there still struggling with addiction? I am clean — as stated above — only a few months. Everyday I feel so ashamed of what I’ve done that I think the world would be better off without me. I am seeking help — I need it — but everyone tells me I have to do the 12 steps — and I am so angry at myself for this disease and I don’t know how to turn my life and health over to God. I don’t believe in the power of God to see me through everything in a healthy way. I’ve kind of given up hope. I am almost bankrupt financially so I can’t give up my job, which I don’t like and I am still at the bedside in ICU. I’m afraid that the few people who know me wouldn’t want anything to do with me if they knew I was an addict — my birth family is not a support system and they don’t know about my addiction. And even though I go to NA and AA meetings, I have a hard time bonding with the people there. I am just so lonely I can’t stand it. My license is intact, but that’s about all I have. Please help.
    And Alli, what do you mean your name is posted on the internet? Do you mean everyone knows about our history now bec/ we write here for support?

  143. Neverlost Says:

    Gee, nothing like being “neverlost” to stop a conversation. Let’s see, I stopped diverting meds in October, I don’t use drugs and quitting was hard and shameful. Isn’t there anyone out there with support? I am still working ICU/critical care. I still spike Fentanyl and Versed and give Morphine and codeine. I am so busy during the day that I never even think about using anymore — ‘course my DOC was Dilaudid and I’ve had no contact with that med. Meanwhile, I wonder whether there is something to the access to meds and the stress that we’re under as RNs that makes us think that drugs will provide relief. I hope all is well with other recovering addicts. That book, Walk Like a Duck, is phenomenal. I hope my recovery can be like the author of that book, Pat Halloran, and not her friend who relapsed so many times and got dealt a bad set of cards from the beginning. Anyway, I’m still licensed, my license is completely unencumbered and not even investigated, and I am so glad I had the strength to stop using and that I still have a job.

  144. Scared Says:

    I am now going through something similar. I am addicted to dilaudid. I don’ t even know when it first began or why. I know that it has finally caught up with me. I am so ashamed, humiliated,scared,sad. I can’t imagine being anything other than a nurse. My work did a drug test yesterday because the suspect. Ironically enough I hadn’t used any in 7 days, but I did smoke some pot and this will show up on my drug test. I told them upfront before the test that I would test positive for pot. I am now awaiting till Monday to hear from them. I feel awful. I feel like I have let my husband and two boys down. If I don’t have a job we will loose everything. I am the main bread winner. I have not only let myself down but I have let my loved ones down. I just don’t know what to do from here.

  145. feel your pain Says:

    me too just had a drug test at work with suspect of diversion. I am the only bread winner with my family being 3,000 miles away I dont know what Im going to do. I left my little boy down Im such a creep. I just want to get help and stop this horrible cycle.

  146. ER..RaticRN Says:

    Well been there and done that. Went from taking percs to Oxys for radiation burn pain and when healed Dr stopped prescription but found another Dr and the cycle continued for years until the 2 docs (who didn’t know about one another) suspected addiction and cut me off out of the blue. I diverted 1 time and decided that was too risky so I got some heroin and began snorting it. Guess what? That one diversion caught up with me because I lost my license. But it saved my life and I’ve been sober 20 months now. I should get my license back in May 2013 and its been rough I’ve lost everything my home, car etc and I am a single mom. But what I gained is a new outlook on what life really is. When I look at it I see it was deeper then just physical pain but a deep sense of thinking I was invincible and grief over the death of my husband who was only 39 at the time of his death. I felt guilty like HELLO I am an ER nurse with 10 YEARS on trauma team/flight and 5 years MICU but I couldn’t see my husbands S/S before he died. So there was something deeper going on. I’m 41 and starting life over but I do know this I know where I need to be when I get my license back and that’s helping other nurses because in Ohio we don’t have a lot of resources for the struggling nurse who is addicted. EAP programs turn you in with the mere implication of addiction whether you have diverted or not “POOF” the license is gone. We need more options, help understanding and break the silence. Good luck to all and I will pray for US as we deserve understanding and mercy and most importantly HEALING.

  147. Almostdonemi Says:

    Hello I am a RN in Michigan currently in Hprp for diverting from work. Hprp monitoring agreement complete in may. I need to obtain license by endorsement in indiana due to relocation. I am waiting till contract done to apply. I am non regulatory. Self reported with no involvement or actions from the board against my license. Hprp is supposed to be confidential. Do I reviel to indiana BON that I was in Hprp? If so how will it affect my chances for license by endorsement? Does anyone have any advice?

    And to all those out there stay strong stay clean and believe God will show you the way.

  148. rachel003 Says:

    I took a morphine pill before going to work. I’ve had a lot of pain. I have had these two pills for a while. I work midnights, took one before bed and another before work. Well, the one before work made me sleepy and I nodded off three times while looking at the computer. I resigned before my employer told me about the positive drug test. I still haven’t told the board. I’m in AZ. Will they let do the “diversion program” in Indiana, my original state that I am moving back to? I told my boss that I did not steal anything. No patients were harmed. I just got really sleepy, but by the time the ms pill wore off I had to go taked a drug test and was sent home. Apparently 2 vials of 2mg MS werer taken out by me and not charged. I don’t remember this. Any help please?

  149. sooashamed Says:

    I have just had the same happen to me. I don’t know what will happen my state has the voluntary disciplinary action, but I do not know if the hospital I worked for is going to press charges or not. I am hoping not, they are one of the two hospitals in our town, they offered no help and terminated me which left me no income and no insurance so if they press charges (please GOD don’t) I will not be able to work after my evaluation next week. I am scared and feel alone, I have no financial help. I am afraid I will lose everything. All for some stupid mistake. What have I done?????? Any advice?

  150. LeAnn Says:

    Hi everyone! I am so glad I found this site. I haven’t practiced nursing in 5 yrs because of my license getting revoked. Since then my drug use spiraled out of control and I almost died and ended up in jail with a criminal record.I have been sober and in recovery for 2.5yrs now and am thinking of getting back into nursing once probation is over. My problem is that my license was revoked in one state and I live in another. Looks like I have lots of phone calls to make in the future.

  151. Sherri Says:

    I’m currently 14 months clean, but before I got to that point, I was arrested for obtaining CDS by fraud. I had started taking Percocet for a medical issue & let it take over my life. I started writing prescriptions for myself & sure enough it caught up with me. I’m currently trying to get into drug court here in LA. If you complete the drug court system, you will not have a felony on your record when you’re finished. I’ve worked as an Oncology nurse for 22 years & not sure what I would do other than that. I’m currently working some steps & doing drug tests for the BON, as they have suspended my license. Today I’m grateful to be alive, clear minded & enjoying my family. Yes I’ve lost a lot in the past year, my dignity for one, but I feel like I’ve gained a lot as well. I wish I could work with other recovering nurses to set up something in Louisiana for other nurses going through this. There’s nothing here for us & I haven’t met anybody who’s story is like mine (being a nurse or healthcare professional). I know they’re out there, but in our profession, they make us scared to ask for help until it’s too late & we have no choice. For people like us that have helped SO many people over the years, I think it’s important to remember that we are good people & that we should be able to ask for help. I’d love to set up something but have no idea where to start! For those of you still working & using, my prayers are with you. Go to a NANA meeting & try to get some help. We are worth it!! For those of us continuing in recovery, much love & one day at a time!

  152. OneChattyNurse Says:

    Nice post!!!

  153. Nicole Wood Says:


    I have to start the monitoring program in 11 days in WA state. It’s an alternative to discipline. The hospital I work for turned me in but because I was then honest with them when they confronted me I have a last chance work agreement. The DOH investigator that I met with told me my information would not be public & after completion it would not show up anywhere. Is that true or did he just say that to get me to sign all the papers?

  154. Dede Dwyer Says:

    Hi all,
    This is Dede the author of this article and am so humbled by the responses and inspired by the extraordinary strength of each person who has posted here.
    I apologize for not realizing there may be folks who would post to me directly, I in no way would intentionally ignore anyone. Unfortunately, life got busy and I just recently found my article again. My intention is to become more involved in this forum going forward.
    As an update, as you may know CT did finally have legislation passed allowing for the creation of an alternative to discipline monitoring program – HAVEN. I was fortunate to have been involved early on and worked there for nearly 2 yrs. my career path took me to addictions nursing where I am currently employed. Working in a treatment center allows me to use my nursing and addiction counseling skills.
    I’m so grateful to be able to say I celebrated 17 years clean on July 4, 2014. This was only possible because I trust My Higher Power and the recovery network I am blessed with.
    I sincerely hope that each of you have found and embraced all the hope and strength these posts offer. Take care of YOU, because nothing is important if YOU are not around.
    Best to all

  155. k mccrary Says:

    My question is where do nurses who are in the discipline program go to work? I won’t be able to do night shift or home care or hospice or er or anywhere where controlled substances are to e accounted for


  156. LLL Says:

    HI Everyone:
    I’m in the nursing recovery program in Maine. Prescription meds brought me here. I have been clean for a few months now but I find myself very bored and don’t know what to do. I go to meetings four times a week but when I’m home I don’t know what to do with myself. I miss working. Its hard to find a job because of my background. I don’t have any friends that don’t have a drug addiction. I just need someone to talk to you.

  157. LLL Says:

    Hi k McCrary,
    I am in the recovery program as well. I am wondering the same question. LMK if you find the answer to your question.
    Thank you LLL

  158. Pat H. Says:

    I need Zoloft for depression. One night I had to work over 8 hours. I would take my med at midnight. I didn’t have any with me. I panicked and took one that was discontinued to be wasted and another nurse saw me. I lost my job. I am being charged with a felony. My life hasn’t been the same.

  159. Tina Says:

    Having difficulty findin work in San Antonio, I have been compliant with everything.Help

  160. feelinglost/scard Says:

    I have been caught, suspended and had the cops come to my house and search for diverting narcotics. I admitted to HR I took the percocet and the other from pyxis is a error in charting. I know my integoraty is shot. I went to treatment and now I am a sitting duck.rumor has it the hospital won’t press charges but theDdamage is done.I also self reported. I have a lawyer and nowiI feel scared BC the cop detective ssof they are seeking to press charges. I recently moved back home to TN this happened in Ak on a new job. Please give me advise and maybe something that will help me sleep at night. I feel scared that they will arrest me any moment. How do i deal?

  161. Debbie R Says:

    I am now in the process of doing a 5 year contract woth the BON in maryland. I am a impaired nurse with 7 years of clean time. I forgot to tell the BON i moved and my license was revoked for a year. i had been clean for 2 years at the time that happened. I now have a associates degree in drug and alcohol counseling, i w ill be pursuing my BSN in psychology if iam not working soon. I’m not sure if i want to go back to nursing but i will have to take a nursing refresher’s course as well so i can work in a hospital or what ever. You have to re-invent your self , you have to show that you have turned your life around by what you are presently doing. I am also planning to take some certerfication courses as well. I do have my feelings about the BON, in that they take4 their sweet time in getting back to you. I feel that if they can see through your self reports your improvement in your recovery process then why cant they give you that respect. Recovery is not about being punished and looked down upon by them as the people that work for them. Anyone can come down with this disease.

  162. Debbie R Says:

    Thanks ladies for your stories. i know now i am not alone.

  163. NURSEanonymous Says:

    Hi all I am an RN for 10 years now, I started diverting meds 3 years ago. I was out of work for a back injury in 2012; this is when my addiction to percocet started. I want to start but everytime I tell myself this will be my last time, I find myself diverting percocet again. I need help BEFORE I get caught. Where can I go for help anonymously? After hearing the stotied here there is no way Im going to my NM or HR. I dont take the wasted meds (maybe thats why I have not been caught…YET). I usually use the prn percs; If a pt.isnt having pain (but has an order for percocet)I’ll just take the meds and chart as if I gave it to them. Its getting really bad now to the point almost everytime Im working Im paged docs telling them the regular tylenol they prescibed for a is ineffective. Sooner or later Im sure someone will begin to get suspicious.

  164. Lost Nurse Says:

    can someone tell me about the state of wisconsin? what assistance is available to help addicted nurses? One slip in judgement seems to have ruined my entire career. It seems that nurses are not treated as a value asset in the medical community–only doctors.
    I proactively dealt with me issue (became addicted to prescription drugs after suffering for over 10 years with migraines). In fact, when I told my doctor I needed help, he gave me a prescription for another 6 months. He should have his license in jeopardy. I have taken ownership, but lost my job and the friendship of my co-workers. You truly find out who your friends are.
    I worked so hard for my 4 year degree. I love nursing–why do I have to be discarded like I have no value.
    Please help me.

  165. WI nurse Says:

    Dear lost nurse,
    I too am in the same situation recently that you are in. I would like to connect with you to support each other, share wi information ( which seems difficult to find) Feel free to email me at dianewhite.rn

  166. KT Says:

    I am so over this mess. I struggle with clinical depression and nearly two years ago, in the throes of an episode, after multiple major surgeries, some issues at home and financial issues, as well as a psychiatrist that was just not very aggressive with my meds. I swiped a non narcotic, but controlled substance from work and went home and tried to off myself. Not one of my better ideas admittedly. I am grateful that I failed at that one. Per the recommendations that I got, I self reported to the alternative to discipline thing in my state. I did get the first and only misdemeanor charge in my entire life. (I am so embarrassed) and thus the BON was made aware of it. By the time the DOH got around to doing anything about it, I had been through all of the evaluation stuff AND an inappropriate, unnecessary (and very expensive) stint in a rather disgusting rehab. In spite of the evaluator saying that this “appeared to be more a mental health problem than a substance abuse issue,” I was still damned to their program for 6 months. I firmly believe it was because the wallet biopsy on my family came back positive. Yes folks, the majority of the “recovery industry” is about nothing more than the almighty dollar. (for those entering the process, never have your evaluation at a place that has a financial interest in a drug/alcohol recovery program. They care nothing about you, only how much money you have.) That really messed with my head and I fought until I had no more in me and I said what they wanted to hear so I could get through it. I was settled in the contract (which I stupidly signed without legal representation). The contract is for five years, replete with restrictions at work, piss tests and AA meetings?? For what it’s worth, I don’t smoke, drink or do any drugs (notwithstanding the dumb move that got me into this.)I (and my therapist) believe that that program and this whole contract thing is overkill and inappropriate.
    Nonetheless, I found a job and am doing okay. But the horror does not end there. For the last year I have gone in circles with the DOH, the BON, my lawyer and so forth. I have done everything they have asked, no matter how stupid and inappropriate and yet, because those useless drones at the BON and DOH do not want to actually have to do any work, my license now has my mental health issues splattered all over the internet, never to go away EVER! And to boot, in spite of trying to get across to them that I was already doing what they offered me a “settlement agreement” for, my license was suspended anyway!! Supposedly, the alternative to discipline program has a representative at those board meetings. Why did they not speak up for me? Advocacy, my backside! This is undoubtedly a bureaucratic snafu, but the shock of getting a letter from the case manager that reads like she has no idea what’s going on, then seeing SUSPENDED on my license is utterly appalling. I just hope to hell that I don’t lose my job over this!!!
    These programs don’t give one rat’s ass about you or anything you try to do to mitigate the damage. You are nothing but a number in a file folder to them. They DON’T CARE!
    I do not have a substance abuse issue. I have a mental health issue. For that I can drudge my way through their dumb program because I love being a nurse. I have no problem with the stipulation of seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist. I would do that anyway. AA meetings, daily check ins and piss tests are just ridiculous idiocy. These programs have one template and that is an addict. For having a recognized diagnosis of depression, I am treated like an addict and a criminal. If it helps someone, great, but it is useless and torture for me and does nothing but make me bitter.
    I see no point in fighting the alternative to discipline program because that is a losing battle, but why do people that stole narcotics from their patients (for whatever reason) have more consideration of confidentiality (for self-reporting, etc.) than I do??? My life has been turned upside down and as “Lostnurse” said “why do I have to be discarded like that?” This is just awesome for the depression issues. Help and advocacy? More like really giving me something to be depressed over.
    Sorry for the rambling, but its a Saturday morning and I can do nothing about it right this minute. So writing it out calms me down a little.

  167. Jay Says:

    I completed IPN within the last several months. I did great throughout the process. When I completed I stopped going to meetings and had a 6 day relapse on alcohol which is the My DOC. I stopped drinking, got a sponsor, moved into sober living and am going to 5-6 meetings a week. My employer doesn’t know but my ex husband does. I’m living in fear of being reported by him. I’m not sure what to do. If I’m investigated it will be discovered because the police were called. I don’t want to go through IPN again.I do want to do what it takes to stay sober and believe I am doing it. Does anyone know what happens if you repeat IPN?
    Thanks- Jay

  168. Shelly Says:

    I got caught diverting pain medication and failed a urine drug screen. I was terminated and I never went back into Nursing d/t shame. It has been a year since, I know no other nurse to confide in to seek info for help. I had cardiac arrest aprox 30 times from cardiomyopathy that I didn’t even know I had and was recovering from that when my case was to be reviewed in Austin. My license was revoked and I was told I could reapply in one year. I live with my sister, have no income and no resources for therapy, dr visits etc. I suffer from depression and want to regain my license to start living my life again. Just don’t know what resources are available and even who to call. Feeling like a complete failure with no encouragement for a future. Any info for the state of Texas with resources or where to begin would be helpful. [email protected]

  169. 507 Says:

    Does anyone have information about ga bonus and resources. I am in the worst position ever and have a child. I fully believe the Lord doesn’t give you what you cannot handle. That being said this is a situation where I would appreciate information and maybe to speak with one one you. No matter the judgment or cause I can’t and won’t give up! I watched my father die of cancer at a young age and this truly inspired my career choice later in life. Daddy never complained or gave up fighting. I encourage all of you today to keep your heads up and to pray. You are not alone. keep talking / writing and sharing your story. That spark of compassion, empathy, and acceptance for all of the wonderful families and patience ts I have had the honor of meeting … and the trials I have been through in life (family deaths, congenital heart deffects and in journal of medicine ) plus many others, it just doesn’t seem right to give up knowing things I have been through may respectfully help others one day. When I share something with a person that is in a dark and desperate place in life, with their asking permissionof course, it makes those hard times of my past worth it. My patients ts are my family and has been branded in my heart since 1995. Appreciate any information

  170. JLPN Says:

    If anyone is still looking at this forum I am due in front of the MD board of nursing on Thursday for not disclosing that I was on a methadone program. I didn’t end up taking the job and they reported me for the methadone which was prescribed also they did an on the spot drug test instead of concentra

  171. Cheryl Says:

    Thank you for your article. I am an RN spiraling out of control. I just quit a great job of 7 years because I couldn’t handle the stress of constantly being around/administering narcotics while having a severe and progressive addiction. I was not caught and removed myself voluntarily. I finally was honest with my husband who is supportive. I am not currently using anything and don’t want to. I have inquired into nurse diversion programs but was told it’s for nurses that have been disciplined. I started therapy to deal with the underlying issues that got me to this point. Do you have any recommendations?
    Thank you

  172. Sally Says:

    I am a nursing supervisor and wanted to share my story. For the past 10 years I have worked with a nurse. I saw her three times a week for 12 hours at a time. I trusted this nurse. I saw her advocate for her patients and always helped her peers. One day a patient had an allergic reaction and another nurse went to pull IV Benadryl out of the Pyxis but the drawer was empty even though the machine said 10 should be in the drawer. The patient died within minutes. Long story short the nurse I trusted had been diverting this medicine for herself for more than a year, along with other medications. While I realize addiction is a disease, diversion is a criminal offense. Many of you compared addiction to diabetes. Diabetics aren’t stealing and lying to everyone they know. A supervisors job is to keep patients safe and would be negligent not to report to the BON. Supervisors responded to your criminal activity, you are the one who ruined your life, not them. Many of you complain that you can’t get a job, leave nursing and get a job doing something else where you’re not jeopardizing people’s lives and causing the public to distrust nurses.

  173. kevin Sharum Says:

    Wonderful to read your story. I was a nurse for 28 years,and in the last year of my career I became addicted to darvocet. I eventually began diverting from the cath lab where I worked. I was arrested at my house,handcuffed in front of my family,by a state DEA who relished in my humiliation,showing up in a black surburban,with a drug dog,and a local cop.I was put in county jail,for the very first time in my life. I called the state board and the women said,get a lawyer,and an appointment with a psychiatrist.I could go on,but to the point,the Arkansas board of nursing,published my name in their monthly newsletter,the city I lived,and my offense,with a legend, “gross immoral acts.”The long and short of it,my nursing career was ruined. I did work with a probated license for 6 years,before throwing in the towel. Tired of their lack of communication,I did ask one board member about an appeal,her words,”you can get a lawyer,but it will only take longer,and the board is going to do what it wants anyway.” This has to be changed,thank you for your story.

  174. Kitty Says:

    I am a nurse in recovery since 2008. I am now in my fourth year as a PhD student and my dissertation topic is Substance Use disorder (SUD) in nurses. I have done a great deal of research on this subject and have found a plethora of information regarding What it is, How does it happen, how to recognize it in a peer, and most importantly that there are 43 states with a policy to allow the facility to treat the nurse and return them to their position with supervision. These topics are all answered. What I am finding is that there is a paucity of research done on prevention. I have two sets of data I need. One would be how many nurses are in recovery in Wisconsin compared to nurses who decided to leave nursing rather than go through the hoops to keep the license and secondly, what did the facility do to educate, make it clear that the EAP would be supportive of a nurse truly wanting help and lastly is their a curriculum in nursing school or in a continuing education mandated by each facility for their staff. Where do I begin to collect this data. I have had a difficult time with the Wisconsin DSPS. I have thought about starting a blog with questions and inviting my audience to send me anonymous responses that would include a pseudonym so I can use coding to measure responses and allow for subsequent replies from members who have responses to others.

  175. ISLAH ALI Says:

    I am both a professional and member of the recovery community which I believe is fortunate for me. Of late I have been working with more professionals like myself who are in need of services either via relapse or their first-time recovery. I must say that it is humbling and dignified at the same time. I have several issues and I am on a pain management program myself.

    the humbling part helps me to stay clean is realizing that I have lived long enough to be and stay clean, that is a blessing, and that I work in an area that can and does assist me in my affairs with a sponsor and network of others. The other biggie for me is that because I get to work and share myself and possibly help others.

    Recently, I was disenchanted with my work and at the same time began to get calls in from other professionals like myself, including nurses, and I am currently adding a specialty program here in Atlanta to serve that population, of members who are professional. It can and does become a problem for members who are in recovery maintaining their sobriety, however, it is also very needed in our community. Many professionals are also retired and face being alone, empty job/nest situations that are conducive to relapse, working in recovery for me has and continues to be a great prophylactic, I, therefore, must use.

    Thank you for sharing your stories with me, it has encouraged me to continue my work and to create an avenue for myself and others in my area.

  176. Samantha Says:

    Responding to Kitty, 43 states, which ones, in Colorado and my work place will not help, just fired me.

  177. Robin Says:

    Would appreciate it if I could get DeDe’s email address. I am a nurse in NC (20 years) and am currently in a program with diagnosis of “mild addiction” (Drs notes). I just have questions and would love some input. Thank you.

  178. Liz Says:

    Hello. I am a nurse in recovery looking for support from others on my situation. Can anyone help? I’m struggling!

  179. becks Says:

    Please help. I got a letter stating I have been reported to the boards for substance abuse. I was using opiates and went to the hospital to get help/treatment and they reported me. I am from CA, please I need advice. I indulged a lot of information to the hospital while i was there so I don’t think I can fight this case with a lawyer. I am dealing with a lot of personal loss recently and have been using illegal drugs more often. What do I disclose to my employer? What are the rules/stipulations of the CA diversion program? When I complete the program, will I have any discrepencies on my license? Anyone with info, please help

  180. Kevin Says:

    I worked as an ICU nurse and Cath lab nurse for 28 years. In my last 8 months working,before termination,I became addicted to opiates and there’s no other word for it,I stole narcotics from the hospital I worked for 26 of those years. I totally did not need to be practicing nursing and everything that happened after,that I set in motion.First,I was drug tested,then fired. 5 days later,there was a pounding at my door,it was the state police DEA,that looked like an army. I had never been arrested so I was handcuffed and taken in. I posted bond,went to a lawyer,for $5,000 he pled it down to drug court. I was allowed to work on an impaired license,and was grateful. I called and attended drug court daily and drug tested 4-5 times a week. I as well had to call for drug testing ordered by the state board everyday and had to pay $100 for each test.I managed to get a nursing job at a psyche hospital,Despite having my name,and city,published in the State Board of Nursing for having my license probated,with heading “gross immoral conduct.” To me that was not necessary,I did treatment,was in drug court paid all my fines,and doing well at my new job. However, when the State Board of Nursing newsletter came out. I had phone calls from former co-workers a few of which told me,”how could you,I thought you were better than that!” And I accepted everything they said,as a punishment for what I had done. Here’s the thing,first drug addiction is an illness,second because a person has an illness does not make them immoral,but drug addicted nurses are a danger and need to be taken out of nursing to recover,I totally agree,I even agreed and found drug court was more helpful than anything in my recovery. But effectively the state boards publishing of names and offenses turned out to be yet another thing to overcome. Okay, still feeling tremendous guilt,I accepted it. But after I recovered and I was clean,and my thinking,and judgement,my thought process’ improved,I realized I was never going to overcome the stigma of drug addiction,in that,in our culture it is judged a moral weakness more than an illness.And really,I can see the logic,but it’s a superficial logic and easily dismisses the individual. I have been clean for 11 years,and I am most proud of this. I do understand that an impaired nurse can not safely care for patients,however to allow process’ to deal out humiliation as a punishment is not moral in my eyes,and even hypocritical by a healthcare entity. I can tell you,there is plenty of humiliation without anyone else deliberately adding to it. And to a degree,it has to happen because that’s what we feel naturally. I still and will always love nursing,and no board or ruling can take that away. I use my assessment skills every single day,the ones I learned and practiced in ICU for 20+ years

  181. Daniel35 Says:

    I haven’t been here for many years. My story began in 2011. I was an RN and got caught diverting narcotics from work and lost my job
    and ultimately my nursing license. Since then I have been going through life feeling immense guilt for what I did. I literally think about it every day. It has consumed my life. The guilt is unbearable. I don’t want to live like this anymore. Any advice deeply appreciated.

  182. Dede Dwyer Says:

    Hi All,
    This is Dede, the author of this article- I humbly say I’m sorry I haven’t been on this sight for some time.
    I want to be a support for those who are seeking help. I have caught up on all the comments, stories and opinions. Addiction is a disease that takes such control of our lives, it is up to us to ask for help no matter how difficult it is. I plan on being here more often. I thank everyone for your bravery in posting your truth.
    With respect

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