Drug and alcohol abuse impact people in all professions, and nurses are certainly no exception. In fact, because of the innate stress of their jobs and the easy access to prescription drugs, nurses — like other health care professionals — can be more prone to develop addictions than people in the general population.
Nurses with substance abuse issues aren't just a danger to themselves — they can endanger their patients. That's why they can lose their nursing licenses due to untreated substance abuse problems.
Of course, it's best for everyone if nurses can get the help and treatment they need. California's Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) has a confidential, voluntary diversion program to help nurses who suffer from substance abuse and/or mental illness. It provides assessments as well as referrals to treatment programs or other support services to help nurses get — and stay — clean and sober. Participating in diversion programs can also prevent disciplinary actions that could destroy the careers they've trained for and worked so hard to build.
The program is available to all nurses licensed and living in California, with the exception of those who:
- Have caused injury or death to a patient
- Sold drugs
- Been previously disciplined by the BRN as a result of their substance abuse or mental illness
- Been terminated from a diversion program (including this one) for non-compliance
Nurses may be referred to the program by the BRN in lieu of disciplinary action after complaints have been made against them. They may also refer themselves to seek treatment for their conditions before they harm anyone or when they need some help to get their lives back on track.
If there's been a complaint lodged against you related to substance abuse or mental illness — and you meet the qualifications for entering the program — your California licensing attorney can seek diversion as an alternative to disciplinary action. This could potentially avert the loss of your nursing license. It's not hyperbole to say that getting the proper treatment could save your life and the lives of others.
Source: SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, "What you Should Know About the BRN Diversion Program," accessed May 23, 2018