While doing research for the last blog-post I posted here (“Don’t Give Up Hope: What to Do if You Fail a DOT Drug Test”), I became aware of the many similarities between the consequences commercial drivers (i.e., truck drivers, bus drivers, etc.) face if they fail a drug test and the consequences nurses face. What struck me most about these two are the benefits provided by voluntarily entering a qualified alcohol treatment center, drug rehab or impaired professionals program.
Not surprisingly, people who work in these career fields are at least partially governed by laws and rules regarding public safety. If someone is either driving a large vehicle on public roads or working directly with a medical patient, if they’re doing so while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it makes sense they pose a possible danger to others.
In the case of commercial drivers, failing a drug test results in immediately being forbidden to drive any commercial motor vehicle, until a “return-to-duty” process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional is completed.
If you’re a nurse who has failed a drug test, your employer is required to report the drug test results either to the Board of Nursing (BON) or to a qualified substance abuse consultant operating an impaired practitioner program. Either way, you are potentially facing action against your nursing license—either suspension or an “administrative complaint” (legal notice from the BON they believe there is probable cause that a violation of your professional code/public health code for health professionals has been committed).
However, by voluntarily enrolling in and completing an alcohol or drug treatment program that’s in alignment with the state’s IPN (Intervention Project for Nurses) requirements and services, you can potentially benefit in the following ways (Note: This is admittedly not a complete list, but provides a hopefully encouraging vision of the possible “rewards” of entering treatment):
· Avoid suspension of your nursing license
· Avoid charges being filed
· Avoid having on your record the “black mark” of any disciplinary action by the BON for all future employers to see
· Avoid potential loss of employment
· Avoid possible loss of hospital or clinic privileges
· Avoid potential exclusion from Medicare
· Avoid potential exclusion from HMO and PPO programs
· Possible retention of your nursing license
· Possible retention of your current nursing job
· Increased ability to get future nursing jobs (i.e., you potentially will not be among those nurses who have lost their license or had their license suspended due to drugs or alcohol)
· Potential to remain in the nursing profession and continue serving in the healthcare industry with an unsullied reputation
Above and beyond these listed possible benefits, entering a drug rehab center or an alcohol treatment facility can also—perhaps most importantly—provide you with the means and resources to “get and stay clean and sober,” if addiction to alcohol and/or drugs is an issue you’re wanting or needing to address.
If so, the bottom line is (and it’s regularly heard in both treatment programs and 12-Step recovery programs nationwide): “You may believe your job or personal relationships come first. But consider, if you do not get clean/sober and stay clean/sober, chances are you won’t have a job, a family or even sanity or life.”
In conclusion, there are a myriad of potential benefits to choosing to go to drug rehab or an alcohol treatment center if you’re a nurse who has failed a drug test. Hopefully, the decision you make will affect the rest of your life in the most positive, rewarding and freeing way possible.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”
– (from “The Serenity Prayer”) Reinhold Niebuhr