jump to navigation

R & R continued, with the Nursing Peer Support Network January 3, 2016

Posted by mariemanthey in Announcements, Nursing Peer Support Network, Professional Practice.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Here it is the first Sunday in January and I am actually keeping my resolution to post regularly!   Sort of squeezing it in a busy day but here it is.   The third area of my current interest and energy choice is the Nursing Peer Support Network we recently created in Minnesota.   Many of you know that I have been an active member of the larger nursing community for many decades….over 50 years as a nurse.  Some of you also know that for  37 of those years I have been in recovery from the disease of alcoholism……in fact, the majority of my ‘visible’ contributions to nursing have been accomplished during these 37 years.

At no time during this period of my recovery, during which I have been an active participant in a 12 step program …..did I even SEE what generally happens to nurses who become addicted to either drugs or alcoholism.   During the past 2-3 years, I have seen this clearly and am frankly appalled.   Two issues in particular ‘appall’ me;

One is the lack of knowledge nurses have of the continuum that exists from taking that first Percocet or Vicodin ….by ‘diverting’ it from a patients supply…….to a consequence a few years later when up to 15% of them are facing criminal proceedings even perhaps a felony conviction, which essentially means loss of ones license to practice nursing.   We are not doing a good job of making this danger clear to nurses.    

The second issue is the paradoxical thinking that leads to an enormous issue of profession shame about the stigma of addiction.    The paradox that we hold simultaneously in our ‘profession’s mind set’ is that addiction is both a disease and a moral failure.

The ambivalent feelings and attitudes many nurses have about addiction can be attributed to many factors having to do with family issues, as well as experiences caring for addicts.   Nevertheless, as a profession we really need to step up in a mature understanding that addiction is a disease from which individuals can recover and return to their profession with full capacity to be highly effective practitioners.

Many states have programs to help nurses into safe recovery.    Minnesota did not until we established one a little over a year ago.   It is called the Nursing Peer Support Network and the website is http://www.npsnetwork-mn.org.

I will periodically be posting more on this topic as recovery from addiction is a process very similar to what we in nursing are doing in recovery from a state of co-dependency to our rightful state of full professional status.   I have learned so much in this past year and feel deep passion about the necessity to face the stigma of addiction fully, in order to help the ‘still suffering addicted nurse’.