Many people believe that nurses are immune from addiction by essence of their intelligence and education. In reality, exposure, easy availability, and familiarity with medications often lead predisposed health professionals to develop a substance use disorder.
Substance abuse is one of the major factors threatening safe nursing practice. Substance use disorder is a chronic, progressive illness characterized by the use of chemicals in spite of adverse consequences. This compulsive-use cycle may have periods where use is controlled, but it is normally followed by at least one episode of out-of-control use causing adverse consequences in one’s life.
Not recognizing or dealing with substance use disorder will exacerbate the problem. Often we are too engrossed in our own problems to be objective and our individual efforts result in more stress that increases the severity of the situation. Left untreated, substance use disorder will not only risk your life, but the life and safety of patients.
There is a Place to Turn for Help
Nurses often buy into the myth that they should be able to handle their substance use disorder because they are health care providers. What may seem a tremendous burden to one person can become a lighter load when shared with someone else.
The first step is to admit there is a problem. It isn’t easy to admit to another person that we are having trouble handling our problems alone. It is a subject that we avoid discussing or confronting. Yet, once we reach that first step, we can begin the process of regaining our life back.
A nurse may access the program by self-referral, Board referral, referral from another person or agency, such as an employer, co-worker or family member. Admission to the KARE for Nurses Program is available to individuals who, at the time of application, meet the requirements listed below.
- Is a Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse licensed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky or, an applicant for a credential issued by the Board;
- Request participation in writing to the program;
- Admit in writing to abusing, or being dependent upon, alcohol and/or drugs;
- Have not been terminated from a similar program in this or any other state for noncompliance;
- To obtain a chemical Substance Use Disorder assessment performed by a Board approved evaluator, which conforms to Board guidelines;
- Follow all recommendations of the Board approved evaluator;
- Agree to the terms set forth in the KARE for Nurses Program agreement; and
- Agree not to be employed in any capacity in a patient care setting or one that requires licensure until approved to do so by the program staff.
Participants must comply with all KARE for Nurses Program requirements for a minimum of five (5) years. Failure to remain compliant, or resolve issues of non-compliance, will result in possible or probable termination from the KARE for Nurses Program. Board staff will make the determination, regarding violations of the Program Agreement.
Suspension of the nursing license(s)/Denied Reinstatement is considered disciplinary action which is reported to the National Council State Boards of Nursing disciplinary database (NURSYS), and other state, federal and certifying bodies, as applicable.
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