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Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 2017;55(12):11–14
Published Online: by:9


Nurses have the same rate of substance use disorders (SUDs) as the general public. Management of nurses with SUDs is moving from being punitive, including public license suspension or revocation, to alternative-to-discipline (ATD) programs that focus on early intervention and non-punitive, confidential help, which often involve continued employment. These programs have good retention rates, and nurses who complete them have fewer criminal convictions and are able to retain their nursing licenses and maintain successful careers in nursing. Barriers to nurses receiving care for SUDs include wide variability in ATD programs, inconsistent funding for treatment, and lack of policies and support for nursing students. Recommendations include changes to nurse practice acts to make ATD programs more uniform, provide adequate funding for all nurses and nursing students, and allow nurses to seek and obtain care without disclosing directly to Boards of Nurses. Colleges of nursing should implement policies to encourage early identification and treatment in nursing students, including ATD and dismissal programs. [Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 55(12), 11–14.]

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