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April 22, 2009

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Jack Stem

LaTonia,

What can be done to help nurses realize what they do in their personal lives can have significant impact on their license and ability to practice their profession? I also receive phone calls from nurses who think smoking marijuana on vacation or over the weekend is no one's business. There is also an increasing number of nurses contacting me because they've been suspended for taking schedule II prescription medications while on duty. They think it's OK because it's prescribed. This seems to be a growing problem and I'm not sure why.

All I know is, more and more nurses are having licensure issues because of the use and misuse of controlled substances. I'm not sure if the problem of substance abuse is increasing or if it's being recognized sooner and reported more often. I do know that some boards of nursing are taking a more punitive approach toward nurses struggling with the DISEASE of chemical dependence.

I founded Peer advocacy for Impaired Nurses, LLC to get the message that nurses with substance abuse or addiction need to seek counseling and treatment BEFORE they are reported to the board of nursing.

The board isn't going to advocate for the impaired nurse; I understand this is not their job. This means we need to advocate for that nurse, for each other. Long term recovery IS possible IF the disease is recognized early and the proper treatment is provided. Ignoring this disease only allows it progress. It's time for the profession of nursing to help their members get well, not punish them for having a chronic, progressive, unnecessarily fatal disease.

Thanks for the work you do for nurses dealing with substance abuse/misuse and other licensure issues.

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