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Nursing Complaint

“I Have an Alcohol Problem and Don’t Know What to Do…”

If you think you have an alcohol or drug addiction problem, you must seek help. Your Board of Nursing, as other professional boards everywhere, knows that nurses can be suffering from problems with drugs or alcohol, and stand ready to work with you in your quest for help. This is not to say that they are lenient or offer any services in this regard to nurses, but they will work with a nurse who decides to seek help.

The worst thing you can do is go to work impaired. You could make an error that impacts upon a patient, which is dangerous for the patient, and dangerous for you.

In many states, nurses may self report their problem to their State Board of Nursing who will refer her to a third party agency best suited for your particular state and/or problem.  It is advisable to self-report before an employer or co-worker reports that you are working impaired. 

Most state Boards work with third party agencies who have entered into an arrangement with that board to assist nurses with addiction problems and report back to the Board if the nurse fails to comply with their outline for recovery for that nurse. In most states, self-reporting and referral to the third party agency are confidential, although your employer will most usually need to be made aware of your involvement with the helping agency, and often will have to give feedback on your work.

Sometimes a nurse may have gotten a DUI or DWI, but not really have a drug or alcohol addiction problem, and the third party program will not necessarily be appropriate. Participation with the third party program is, of course, your decision, but participation, if it is not needed, may not be the right choice. If you can find a nurse attorney or an attorney who has experience representing nurses in front of your Board, it is always advisable to seek at least a consultation as to your options and the requirements in your state.

You must contact your own state Board of Nursing to question the parameters and responsibilities of nurses who have and want assistance with recovery. The third-party agencies in your state will be able to tell you the requirements, obligations, and case management that they have in place to assist nurses.