Behind the Book

In a world which presents many challenges, it is my belief that the dilemma of chemical dependency in the nursing profession merits greater attention than it has received to date. By all accounts, the most conservative estimate is that one in ten nurses will develop a problem with drugs and/or alcohol within their lifetime. Some studies suggest the prevalence is double that. Given the millions of nurses licensed in the United States alone, even the lower assessment of ten percent represents nearly five hundred thousand individuals. If one were to calculate this number on an annual basis over a seventy year span, this would mean that more than seven thousand nurses cross an invisible line into what often becomes a very visible problem each year in this country.

Therefore, I feel there is no greater goal than advancing awareness of the increased occupational exposure nurses face in carrying out their professional duties. Since 2003, my efforts have been devoted to working with chemically dependent nurses, advocating for their recovery, and enlightening others regarding this issue. This endeavor has convinced me that a more proactive stand must be taken if this situation is to be improved. To me, the most effective approach engages all nurses as well as those they interact with regularly.

While I have presented the subject of chemical dependency in the profession to thousands of nurses, students and other groups, millions of nurses and those they live and work with have not yet been reached. For this reason, I have written the book "Unbecoming A Nurse: Bypassing The Hidden Chemical Dependency Trap." It reflects what I have learned in working directly with hundreds of chemically dependent nurses over the years. It highlights the innate and professional risk factors, as well as measures which may prevent the development of an issue in the first place. For those who do become chemically dependent, the book outlines information which the nurse and their colleagues, employers and loved ones will find helpful. Behaviors and traits which may indicate a problem are presented, as well as warning signs of relapse for nurses already in recovery. Alternative to discipline programs are highlighted along with measures which foster a continuous and uninterrupted recovery. The chemically dependent nurse's reluctance to obtain help is discussed and the need for prompt intervention and expert treatment is underscored.

Initially, there were two chief aims of this publication. The first was to outline the adoption of optimal safeguards which allow nurses to bypass the chemical dependency trap. The second was to provide accurate information and support to nurses and student nurses as well as those they interact with at work, home, school and social events.

One of the most frequent comments from those who reviewed Unbecoming A Nurse prior to publication was the hope that there would be anecdotal summaries of actual nurses throughout the book. While the inclusion of such narratives may have added depth for the reader, the confidentiality of those I have worked with over the years would have been compromised.

For that reason, From Unbecoming A Nurse To Overcoming Addiction: Candid Self-Portraits of Nurses in Recovery was written. It chronicles the downward slope leading to addiction to various substances and behaviors as well as compelling testimonies regarding recovery in the words of twenty-nine nurses from twenty states.