From the emotional stress of assisting patients with often debilitating conditions to the high risk of musculoskeletal injuries that may require ongoing pain management, nurses are far from immune from developing a chemical dependency.
In addition to the potential for harm to themselves and patients under their care, nurses with untreated addiction issues may face personal, legal and professional consequences, including the loss of their practicing license.
Massachusetts nurses should know that help may be available through the state’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program.
What is SARP?
SARP is a confidential, voluntary rehabilitation program that helps eligible nurses with a chemical dependency address their addiction and eventually return to nursing practice. Run by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing, the program may allow nurses to avoid disciplinary action while receiving appropriate treatment.
What does the program involve?
SARP provides each participant with an individualized recovery plan that may take several years to complete. Nurses in the program must abstain from all substances of abuse and agree to ongoing toxicology testing, progress assessment and both individual and group therapy sessions. Participants entering the program may have to agree to refrain from nursing temporarily. However, with Board approval, participants may be able to return to supervised practice while in SARP.
Alternative programs like SARP reflect the increasing awareness of the nature of addiction. By recognizing chemical dependency as a progressive but treatable health issue, such programs may be a lifeline for those who are ready to get their lives and careers back on track.