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 your 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 potentially 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.

Once accepted into the program you will typically be required to do some or all of the following:

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…