Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Rolls Out Specialized Substance Use Treatment for Nurses

Addresses Their Complex Recovery and Return-to-Work Issues

CENTER CITY, MINN. (May 6, 2014) —During "National Nurses Week," the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is unveiling its first-of-its-kind Nurses Professionals Program, an adjunct to Hazelden's well-established and nationally acclaimed Health Care Professionals Program.

Some 92% of nurses in America are women, and the nursing profession is historically ranked near the top of the most admired and respected professions in the country. The combination of being one of an elite group of professionals, entrusted with high levels of care, and the stigma especially attached to women with substance use disorders, helps us realize the complexity of tailoring an effective treatment program for nurses in recovery.

The Nurses Professionals Program is designed to provide recovery solutions to this highly specialized population. Nurses who struggle with substance use disorders will now have a Twelve Step, evidence-based treatment program designed to meet their specific recovery needs.  The new treatment track is offered at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Center City campus.

"Health care professionals are not immune to the devastating consequences of substance use disorders," says Marc Myer, MD, director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Health Care Professionals program. "But with the right care and support, this chronic, progressive disease can be treated and managed for life."

Myer explains that addiction and recovery issues can be especially complex for health care professionals, and specifically for nurses, who:

  • have ready access to medications and extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals
  • encounter trauma, untreatable illness, and even death in their daily work-life
  • put aside self-care to attend to patients' needs
  • experience irregular work shifts
  • sustain workplace injury causing chronic pain
  • have likely hidden their addiction for years
  • risk losing their license and livelihood

While physicians who receive treatment for substance use disorders show recovery rates of 90% or more, lasting recovery is far more elusive for nurses who complete a treatment program, reports Michael K. Humphrey, RN, BSN, the director of the Nurses Professionals Program.

"One of our key findings was that, for the nursing professional, substance use disorders are typically treated as an acute disease rather than a chronic condition," says Humphrey.  "Post-treatment care and support is either lacking or non-existent for nurses, as is assistance with reintegration back into work."

That's why Hazelden's specialized track features options for "step down" phases of care, a thorough return-to-work assessment, a personalized recovery management plan including a weekly aftercare support group, and ongoing communication and coordination with health care monitoring and/or diversion boards.

Similar to Hazelden's broader Health Care Professionals Program, the Nurses Professionals Program emphasizes a peer treatment cohort.

"Substance use disorders can be very isolating, and there can be a great deal of shame involved. To hear another nurse describe her situation and her fears and her workplace worries can be hugely therapeutic and healing," says Humphrey.

"For more than 60 years, Hazelden has helped people from all walks of life and all across the world overcome substance use disorders," notes Myer. "Through our new programming for nurses, we are proud to extend our reach of healing to those who dedicate their lives to healing others."

For more information visit the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Nurses Professionals Program.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery.

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