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Nurses and Drug Addiction: New Standards in the Medical Profession

Drug abuse and addiction are common problems among all people. Although medical professionals know the dangers of substance abuse all too well, substance abuse is still a problem among those in the field. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical professionals are not immune to substance use or addiction.

Sometimes, addictions and problematic substance use become so severe that otherwise honest professionals find themselves sneaking substances, or even forging prescriptions or committing other crimes to augment a prescription drug addiction habit. In many states, new standards have been implemented to keep nurses from falling victim to drug addiction and nurses currently in recovery are being kept under a close watch.

After Drug Rehab: The Issues Facing Medical Workers

Nurse with distraught patientPeople who work in healthcare services are under a great deal of scrutiny when they return from drug rehab. Constant access to prescription medications means that opportunities will often arise to abuse and steal drugs. As a recovering addict, this temptation can prove to be too much without a solid support system, a recovery plan, and skills to stay strong. When others are depending on you to do your job in life-and-death situations, the risk of relapse cannot be taken lightly.

After Drug Rehab: The Recovery Process and Guidelines

In order to ensure that relapses do not happen, most U.S. states mandate biweekly drug tests for nurses after completing drug rehab. The cost of those tests as well as the corresponding clinical evaluations fall upon the nurse. This process starts well before the nurse is reinstated to his position; after a time of consistently negative drug tests, then the health care worker may return to his job.

Once employment resumes, these drug tests continue. In fact, in California, a nurse or other health care worker back will undergo 104 drug tests in the first year back at work after drug rehab. Should just one of these drug tests come back with a negative result, the health care worker will immediately have his license suspended temporarily, pending reinstatement after another period of negative drug tests.

After Drug Rehab: Public Versus Private in the Medical Industry

Unlike most professions where your drug addiction and recovery status is considered a medical record and therefore protected for privacy by HIPAA laws, the medical profession will publicly “out” those who have had their license suspended and those who are subject to extra supervision. Though it is never specifically stated that drug addiction is the reason, any licensure violation may provoke grave consequences.

Licensure requirements for nurses and other medical professionals vary from state to state. Many states offer this information online and may be easily found through a Google search. For instance, California residents who would like more information about the post-drug rehab guidelines for California health care workers can check out

No matter how serious an addiction or substance use problem has become, healing is possible. Call our toll-free, completely confidential helpline to learn more about treatment with individualized treatment plans that fit the unique needs of your situation. Give your own health or the health of a loved one a new chance. Find out how we can help you today.