It started out casual and it wasn’t a problem. It was an escape, recreational, stress relief. It was manageable. It was fun, but then it wasn’t fun, then it was ugly, then it was scary, then I wanted to die. No one saw what was happening. I didn’t even see it at first, then I ignored it, rationalized it, justified it. It was this darkness that rose up and tried to take all of me. I wasn’t what I envisioned as the stereotypical addict. I had a job, a career. I was senior nurse in a large academic medical center. I had won various awards and earned several advanced certifications. I was respected among my peers and colleagues. I had the husband, 2 kids, 2 new cars in the driveway, the white picket fence. On the surface, everything appeared perfect and socially acceptable, but it was all an illusion. Fancy and sparkling on the outside, but vile and rotting on the inside. I used the outside successes to fill the inside void, but it was never enough and I sunk deeper and deeper. I would have never found a way out had I not been caught diverting and been reported to the BON. Something greater than me did for me what I could not do for myself. In what felt like seconds, the life I had built came crumbling down. I felt alone, scared, angry, and filled with shame and guilt. I thought that I was the only nurse to ever experience anything like this. I thought my obsession and compulsion to drink and use drugs was a character flaw, a mortal sin, a lack of control when in fact it was the disease of addiction.
PNAP and PHMP quickly became part of my vocabulary. I learned there were others like me. There was a way out if I chose to do what was suggested to me.
The Voluntary Recovery Program (VRP) provided a structured and regimented climate in which recovery remained the constant priority while integrating nursing practice back into my life. Each step of the way, I was supported and guided not only by my case manager, Beth, but also by my recovery social network including numerous recovering healthcare professionals I encountered on this journey. I took full advantage of the multiple support avenues afforded to me in this process. I learned to take suggestions in order to find and maintain a better way of life, a life in recovery. Throughout the years I spent in the VRP, I learned to seek self improvement through utilizing honesty, open mindedness and willingness. I gained an understanding of the multifaceted disease of addiction. I broke old, destructive habits and replaced them with new healthy coping mechanisms.
Today, I am present in all areas of my life, professionally and personally. In the span of 3 years, I went from not knowing if I would ever practice nursing again to being recognized as one of the top nurses in my region. I was able to brave most of 2020 in a covid ICU. It was only because of the skills I learned through this process that I had the mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity to endure practicing during a pandemic. I strive to help other nurses and healthcare professionals navigate through this program. While our individual stories of how we ended up here may be different, the pain that we feel at the end of the road is what binds us together and allows us to inspire each other. Personally, I am a better wife, mother, sister and friend in recovery. I have found redemption, forgiveness, and love. I have found my truest self.
I wanted to send my sincere gratitude to PNAP for your patience and commitment to not only getting me back to work, but laying the groundword for my recovery. I completed PNAP a couple years ago. I will celebrate 6 years clean on 7/5/2020. I never believed I would be able to stop using drugs, nor did I necessarily want to stop. As my anniversary nears, I’m reflecting on that night I called PNAP, 7/3/2014, to report that I had been suspended from work after being caught diverting. My priorities when I arrived at treatment were much different than they are today. I called PNAP on day 3, asking if I would still be able to go on all-inclusive vacations while I’m monitored. Today, my recovery is my priority. “Recovery must come first, or I will lose everything I have gained, including myself.” I don’t ever want to lose me again. I like the person I have become. I love recovery. I’m now working as the ADON of a treatment facility. I get to help other addicts every day. I get to give back. I also get to help other nurses get back to work. I will be forever grateful to my case manager-most importantly for her patience and trust. Thank you PNAP, for helping me to recover and get back to work. I still go on all-inclusive vacations. I actually went on two while being monitored. Today I just indulge in the all you can eat guacamole instead of the all you can drink.