It is my belief that the dilemma of substance abuse among nurses must be highlighted in order to protect nurses, nursing students and the public. By all accounts, the most conservative estimate is that one in ten nurses will develop a drug problem or an alcohol problem during their lifetime, although 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 half a million nurses.
My priority is increasing awareness of the occupational exposure nurses face in carrying out their duties and decreasing drug diversion in nursing. Since 2003, my efforts have been devoted to working with chemically dependent nurses, advocating for their recovery, and providing presentations on this issue. This endeavor convinced me that a more proactive stand must be taken if this situation is to be improved. In my mind, the most effective approach engages all nurses as well as those they interact with regularly.
While I have presented on the subject of nurses and addiction and the very serious issue of drug diversion in nursing 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 wrote the book Unbecoming A Nurse: Bypassing The Hidden Chemical Dependency Trap. It reflects what I have learned in working directly with hundreds of nurses afflicted with addiction over the years. It highlights the innate personal 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 and monitoring programs are emphasized along with measures which foster a continuous and uninterrupted recovery. The addicted 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.
But Unbecoming A Nurse is only half the story because an overwhelming number of nurses in monitoring programs throughout the U.S. and Canada recover from addiction and maintain uninterrupted, continuous recoveries for decades. For this reason, From Unbecoming A Nurse To Overcoming Addiction: Candid Self-Portraits of Nurses in Recovery was written.
The book chronicles the downward slope of 29 nurses which led to addiction but more importantly, highlights their compelling testimonies of sustained recovery. Each story is nothing less than miraculous in its own right; evidence that addiction recovery in nurses is achievable and sustainable.
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Author Paula Davies Scimeca and independent publisher Sea Meca, Inc., were honored when USABokNews.com selected “From Unbecoming A Nurse to Overcoming Addiction: Candid Self-Portraits of Nurses in Recovery” as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Health: Addiction and Recovery category of the “BEST BOOKS 2010 AWARDS” on October 26th, 2010.
Ms. Scimeca responded to the announcement by saying: "This award honors the twenty-nine nurses who graciously contributed their stories of long-term recovery from addiction to the book. Such public recognition acknowledges their courageous efforts and transmits the hope of sustained, uninterrupted recovery to thousands of other nurses who are striving for their own recovery from addiction, one day at a time."
Nurses are people-oriented, so feel free to drop me a line. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.