Nurses in Recovery - Book Reviews


In Praise of "Unbecoming A Nurse"

"Unbecoming a Nurse is a text in which Scimeca's knowledge and authoritative voice are clearly evident in her depiction of the problem and in her prescriptions for nursing policy and practice changes that would lower the risk of addiction while enhancing patient safety. In contrast, what she achieves most significantly in From Unbecoming a Nurse to Overcoming Addiction is quieting her own voice and letting her protagonists tell their recovery stories." William L. White, MS, Chestnut Health Systems, Bloomington, Illinois. Read this review in its entirety at:


"I am the director of ISNAP, the Indiana State Nurses Association. I have read "Unbecoming A Nurse" and it is very well written and summarizes what we do in monitoring very well!" 

--Chuck Lindquist MA, M. Div., Program Director of the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program (ISNAP)

"All of a sudden I feel connected to all my nursing colleagues that have the disease of addiction, cunning, baffling, powerful. I was having stomach cramps and crying at the same time when I was looking at your web site. Finally I am out of this dark, horrific dark hole that I have been in for many years. Yes, someone wrote a book about me (and all chemically dependent nurses out there). Just by reading parts of your book I feel a sense of relief, just letting all those bad feelings come out. I am not a bad nurse!!!!! But wherever GOD takes me I will be ok. Thank you for writing this book!!!"  

-- Name Witheld

"Being educated, I thought I could handle what I was doing and actually didn't even recognize that what I was doing was a problem. I thought I had it all under control. I thought I knew enough about chemical dependency to prevent a problem; I thought I was smarter than my disease.  This book is important for the families of nurses. My husband had no idea what to make of my behavior and was shocked about my decision to enter rehab. He had no idea how bad it was or that I even had a chemical dependency problem. Maybe he thought that because I was a nurse I "knew better".I am very grateful for this book. I hope it increases the awareness of chemical dependency among nurses and allows others to see that nurses are not angels, they are human beings."  



"I am a nurse attorney that has for the past 20 years represented nurses and other healthcare professionals in licensure disciplinary cases. I have had the pleasure to work with Paula Davies Scimeca when she was associated with SPAN. We have both served as advocates for nursing professionals albeit in different roles. In my opinion, Paula's book, Unbecoming a Nurse, serves as a valuable tool for all nurses and nursing students as the SHUNT Self Survey is a useful tool for nurses to help identify those at potential risk for chemical dependency. Paula's book is both thought provoking and insightful into the issues affecting nurses that are dealing with [or should be dealing with] the effect and ramifications of chemical dependency. The book offers hope, compassion and useful suggestions to assist those nurses dealing with the disease process of addiction. I have personally read the book several times and can say that with each read I gain some additional insight into the issues surrounding addiction. I highly recommend this book to all nurses."
--Karen J. Halpern, RN, BSN, MSN, JD     

“My son was a Registered Nurse. He was a wonderful, caring and compassionate young man. He loved taking care of people especially the elderly patients of his. Sadly, he was also a drug addict. Paula Davies Scimeca's book Unbecoming A Nurse is a must read for anyone connected to the nursing profession no matter how closely or remotely. Paula recognizes the good that is inherent in nurses but also recognizes the dark side that leads some down the path of addiction. Paula is passionate in her desire to help nurses and to help others understand the disease of addiction. Her screening tool that she developed to help nurses measure their own risk of becoming chemically dependent is indicative of her concern for nurses and patients alike. Paula knows from working with addicted people firsthand the torment that addicted people go through and the suffering and agony of their loved ones. She writes with compassion and understanding. I recommend this book to everyone, to nurses, nursing students and patients alike.”
--Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis, author, "I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction)"   

“We call them statistics, but they hide the definition of damage and destruction behind every additional addiction and/or death created from the prescription drugs. Paula Davies Scimeca has successfully created a book that isn't afraid to describe the statistics in human terms. Nurses and every health care professional must realize early in their careers that losing the battle to drug misuse and addiction is a lottery they don't want to enter. Unbecoming a Nurse is a must read for every health care professional. My hope is that Unbecoming a Nurse will be perceived by many as a book that must be read early-on, rather than a book that should have been read. We can't let that happen”
--Larry Golbom, R.Ph., MBA, and Host of The Prescription Addiction Radio Show – Breaking the Silence. Archives of past shows at:

“I became interested in the subject matter of Unbecoming A Nurse as a result of my position on the New York State Professional Assistance Committee (PAP). I met the author approximately six years ago and developed a great deal of respect for her, both personally and professionally. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Unbecoming A Nurse and I agree with the author that if reading this book helps just one nurse avoid the hidden chemical dependency traps in the nursing profession, then all her hard work would be worthwhile. I truly believe this book should have a place in the nursing curriculum and is a must read for anyone thinking about becoming a nurse or for anyone who lives with or loves a nurse. Unbecoming A Nurse sounds an ominous warning of the dangers that are real and ever present in the profession.”
--John W. Mullen, Troy, NY     

“I'm not a nurse. No one in either my close or my extended family has been in the nursing profession; however, Paula Davies Scimeca's book, Unbecoming a Nurse, spoke to me, enlightened me, and moved me. Over the years, I've received expert medical attention, been soothed and reassured by caring, competent nurses, and had the privilege of helping college students prepare for the demands of nursing school. Thus, the thought of any nurse losing that which she or he has worked so hard to attain, and can only do out of dedication and devotion to the profession, is distressing. And, to lose it all to chemical dependency, induced no doubt by many stressors on and off the job, is doubly tragic. Scimeca's book should be read by every nursing student, nursing instructor, and practicing nurse, as well as the general public. It offers not just explanations, but solutions and practical advice on how to not only avoid the chemical dependency trap, but how a previously dependent nurse can return to his or her normal life after overcoming that dependency. This is the missing piece in the chemical dependency puzzle; the "why" of how someone with medical knowledge and experience can fall victim, and how they can take back their life. Scimeca's book is well-written, clear, cogent, and carries the conviction and dedication of its writer.”
--Jennie L. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Western Kentucky University and Author of "Blue Moon Rising."    


In Praise of "From Unbecoming A Nurse to Overcoming Addiction"

"It was a privilege to be one of the 29 nurses whose story of long term addiction recovery is captured in this book.  Drug abuse among nurses is devastating but there is hope of addiction recovery in nurses.  Our stories attest to nothing less!

- Anonymous Nurse

"What a beautiful and powerful book that Scimeca has weaved together! In our lives as recovering people and our work as recovery advocates, we know firsthand the stigma and discrimination faced by women and men who live in recovery. The ravages of stigma breed in silence, behind closed doors and become real barriers for those needing help to stop addiction in its tracks. What Scimeca has done is shine a light in those dark places and give voice to the real-life struggles and successes of nurses who commit themselves to recovery. These stories demonstrate what we know: that people with alcohol and drug addiction can be freed through recovery and live well. The more we publicize this fact, the more individuals and families who suffer from addiction can find their way to recovery." 

—Deb Dettor, Coordinator, Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery

"This book profiles courage and is a resource for nurses who suffer from alcohol and/or substance abuse, or have colleagues suffering with an addictive disease. It is enlightening, poignant and in moments humorous. This book helps raise awareness and informs a better understanding of the disease process of addiction." 

—Deborah Egel, RN, CARN, Esq.

"This book should be required reading for all nurse training programs, state boards of nursing, alternative to discipline program staff and employers. The stigma associated with chemical dependence prevents those struggling with the disease from seeking and/or accepting help. Stigma arises from the lack of knowledge, and training programs provide little, if any, education regarding the disease of addiction. Paula has provided the nursing profession with practical information that is immediately useful. She has also shown us the human side of those nurses trapped in the downward spiral that is addiction. If we hope to reverse the alarming rise in the numbers of people becoming dependent on prescription medications, especially in children whose age of first use is eleven to twelve years of age, we must educate our society regarding the disease of chemical dependence. Since nurses are the front line health care providers, it makes sense to begin this education in the nursing profession. After all, if nurses don't understand this disease or recognize it in their colleagues, how can we expect the rest of society to do any better?" 

—Jack Stem, CEO & Founder of Peer Advocacy For Impaired Nurses, LLC

"This book offers a view into the hearts and minds of those whose lives have been influenced by addiction. These stories help us all understand how we can change, grow, and successfully live in recovery. Thank you for giving voice to their experiences." 

—Kate Driscoll Malliarakis, RN, CNP, MAC, Pres., KAM Associates

"Paula Scimeca has managed with this book to address this most serious problem of nurses and addiction through the words of the addicts themselves. This provides us with a concentrated source of understanding and insight that would take perhaps months or years to gather otherwise. It is enlightening and useful to both the clinician helping the addicted nurse and hopefully, the addict, who will learn that he or she does not struggle alone." 

—E'Louise Ondash, RN/Author

"A book for nurses that creates enlightenment for all, From Unbecoming A Nurse To Overcoming Addiction will save many from a disease that all believe will never affect them. It should be required reading for every healthcare professional to ensure preconceptions are replaced with understanding and comprehension of a disease that has no preference for social or professional standing. Hopefully this book will save some nurses from the pain of walking in the shoes of an addict." 

—Larry Golbom, RPh, MBA, host of The Prescription Addiction Radio Show – Breaking The Silence  

 "Who heals the healers? In Paula Davies Scimeca's first book, Unbecoming a Nurse, we learned that even the most conscientious nurses can succumb to the pressures - and temptations - of a demanding, exacting profession. In this, Scimeca's second book, we learn how they fight back and conquer their addictions."The personal narratives of nurses in recovery from addiction are straightforward, explicit, and startlingly frank. Some are graceful; some are blunt, but all are eye-openers. Scimeca's decision to allow the nurses to tell their stories, in their own words, and from their unique perspective was a significant one. Her extensive knowledge of, and respect for, the nursing profession is the driving force behind her book. She not only empowered those telling the stories, but lent credence to their accounts. By withholding editorial comments, Scimeca permits the voices to ring true and uncontrived, thus loudly proclaiming that recovery is not only possible, but probable. This book brings long over-due support to vulnerable nurses and their families." 

—Jennie L. Brown, author Blue Moon Rising: Kentucky Women in Transition  

"This book represents real people with stories of triumph over addiction. Drugs, alcohol, gambling - all of them addictions, and left unattended can lead to tragedy. These stories will encourage and inspire others who think they are alone in their world of addiction to work harder to achieve wellness. An awesome book." —Barbara Wadsworth, MSN, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, RWJ Fellow 2009, Senior Vice President Patient Services/Chief Nursing Officer, Abington Memorial Hospital 

  "A book for nurses that creates enlightenment for all, From Unbecoming A Nurse To Overcoming Addiction will save many from a disease that all believe will never affect them. It should be required reading for every healthcare professional to ensure preconceptions are replaced with understanding and comprehension of a disease that has no preference for social or professional standing. Hopefully this book will save some nurses from the pain of walking in the shoes of an addict."

 —Larry Golbom, RPh, MBA, host of The Prescription Addiction Radio Show – Breaking The Silence