If you are a licensed nurse and you are suffering from chemical dependency you must get help. The first thing to do is contact your EAP (employee assistance program), they can confidentially get you in touch with professionals that can help you. If your employer does not have an EAP, contact your insurance to get a list of drug and alcohol counselors. If you have neither an EAP nor insurance, do a web search for alcohol or drug counselors near you. You should then get an assessment for chemical dependency by a qualified person to determine your treatment needs, if any.
Next, you NEED to contact the nursing board and self-report. This is probably the most difficult step, but an absolutely critical one. If you have the courage to do this your chances of attaining sobriety and staying sober go up a few notches. In Wisconsin, our nursing board offers a confidential program called PAP.
Professional Assistance Procedure (PAP):
The Professional Assistance Procedure (PAP) is a confidential, non-disciplinary monitoring program that may be offered to credential holders with chemical dependency issues. If eligible, it will be necessary for you to sign an Agreement for Participation which is a contract that describes the requirements for participation. You must follow this contract precisely in order to obtain/retain your license. This contract may contain work restrictions that you will need to discuss with your work supervisor.
Participation in PAP is voluntary.
- PAP is a CONFIDENTIAL program for chemically impaired professionals.
- For the majority of chemically dependent professionals, there is now an opportunity to seek treatment without losing their professional credentials.
- PAP promotes early identification of chemically dependent professionals and encourages their rehabilitation.
- PAP offers participants an opportunity to obtain treatment for chemical dependency while ensuring that immediate action can be taken should a participant relapse or drop out of treatment. Participation in PAP will not exempt the professional from discipline.
- PAP does not provide treatment, but monitors participants’ progress in treatment with an approved treatment provider.
- If you or someone you know is a credentialed professional and is having problems with alcohol or other drugs, the Professional Assistance Procedure (PAP) may be the answer. Timely and effective treatment can save the professionals career and even their life.
- You can learn more here: http://dsps.wi.gov/Other-Services/Professional-Assistance-Procedures
Once accepted into the program you will typically be required to do some or all of the following:
- Submit quarterly status reports.
- Submit to random urine drug screens at least weekly. Sometimes you will be required to give a blood or hair sample too.
- Attend 12 step meetings, 2-3 per week.
- Meet weekly with your counselor and attend group therapy sessions.
- Adhere to work restrictions. This may include…
- No access to narcotics
- Work under direct supervision of licensed healthcare professional
- Work setting must be pre-approved by the nursing board
- Can not work in home health care, hospice, pool or agency nursing
- Provide quarterly written reports
The cost of all of this falls on you.
This is a scary proposition to say the least. But the benefits are great. Committing yourself to this program will help you obtain sobriety and once you are sober, it will help you stay on track. Do this before you get fired for stealing drugs; before you get fired for being under the influence of a substance at work; before you get arrested for any number of offences that chemical dependency has to offer- stealing drugs from work, driving under the influence, calling in prescriptions for yourself, just to name a few. Do this for your patients who are not getting the care they deserve and for your coworkers and supervisors. Do this for YOU.
Next week we’ll talk about the different treatment types…