Nurse Professionals Addiction Treatment Program

You've been there for your patients. We'll be there for you.

Hope is within reach.

Addiction treatment, recovery, and return-to-work issues can be especially challenging for nurses. Like other health care professionals struggling with addiction, your license and livelihood are on the line.

Nurses, due to the nature of your work and dedication to patient care, can become vulnerable to addiction. Irregular shift work, repeated emotional trauma, and workplace injury causing chronic pain might lead to unhealthy self-treatment. With extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals and ready access to medications, a plan for short-term relief can potentially transform into full-blown addiction. And, for most nurses, financial constraints, fear of losing a job or license, and the stigma associated with addiction can put addiction treatment seemingly out of reach.

Nurses who may have a substance use disorder are three times more likely to admit they are struggling and seek help if offered a nurse "alternative to discipline" program. This option makes it easier for nurses to get the help they need in an environment focused on well-being versus the threat of loss of employment, licensure or both.

For these and other reasons, you typically have less access to comprehensive addiction treatment services and recovery support resources than many of your professional colleagues in health care. Until now.

Specialized care

In developing a first-of-its-kind addiction treatment program specifically for nurses, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation clinicians looked into why physicians who receive treatment show recovery rates of 90% or more while lasting recovery is far more elusive for nurses who complete treatment. Among their key findings: For the nursing professional, addiction is typically treated as an acute disease rather than a chronic condition. Post-treatment care and support are lacking or nonexistent for nurses, as is assistance with reintegration back into work.

A plan built for you

Substance use issues can be especially complex for nurses. And we recognize that every person's situation is different. The very strengths prized in nurses—problem solver, healer, caretaker, and perfectionist—can be stumbling blocks to addiction recovery. Nurses also have workplace challenges that can complicate sustained recovery, such as easy access to medications, extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals, irregular shift work, long hours, repeated emotional trauma, workplace injury causing chronic pain, and more. But with the right care and support, addiction can be treated and managed for life.

Our clinicians take into consideration your physical and mental health, work history, family relationships, types of substances being abused, gender, and many other variables. Understanding these differences is important in developing the best possible recommendations and plan to help you get well and stay well.

Getting your whole picture

With compassionate care, expert understanding, and complete confidentiality, our multidisciplinary team works with you to evaluate your situation and determine a plan of action. Our approach is holistic and personalized. We look carefully at issues related to mind, body, and spirit, taking into account everything you need to make decisions about your health and career. Our evaluation will provide you with the following:

  • Detailed and individualized recommendations for clinical care, if appropriate
  • A vocational assessment with clear recommendations regarding fitness to practice
  • An evaluation summary for your employer, monitoring and licensing boards, or other professional contacts, as needed

Targeted care for health care professionals

Inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is built on evidence-based practices along with integrated clinical disciplines and individualized planning. Your interdisciplinary care team includes:

  • Addiction counselors
  • Psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Physicians and nurses
  • Family specialists
  • Spiritual care professionals
  • Nutritionists and wellness specialists

Based on our thorough evaluation, your care plan is developed to meet your unique needs and may include educational presentations, group and individual counseling, and opportunities to connect with your nursing peers—an important way for you to find greater insight into your situation.

The Nurses Addiction Treatment Program also incorporates individual sessions with a doctor/clinician or a nurse/clinician to address issues related to your career restoration, professional practice, reputation, licensing or disciplinary matters, participation in monitoring programs, and continuing care. Weekly group sessions specifically for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals are also part of the specialized programs.

Identifying nurses with substance use disorders

Carrie Kappel, the associate director of the Health Care Professionals Program, shares how to identify individuals that may be struggling with a substance use disorder and the best approaches to intervene.
View all videos for nurse professionals