According to the American Nurses Association, roughly 10-20% of nurses may have substance abuse problems. So if you feel you might be in that demographic, you might want to know about the AZBN ATD (Alternative to Discipline) program.
Why This Matters to You
If you are struggling with substance abuse, the last thing you want is to get caught practicing while impaired. Now, you might be afraid to come forward, worried about your career. That’s understandable. But it’s not just your career that is a concern; struggling with substance abuse also affects your life outside of work.
As a nurse, you have undoubtedly witnessed the effects of substance use disorders first-hand at some point in your career. You may think that you have it under control because you’re a nurse and know what you’re doing. But if this is something you are struggling with, do you really know how your relationships with others are going right now? How about your finances? How about your health?
Maybe because most of us spend more time at work than with our friends and family, your managers or coworkers will most likely be the first to notice changes in your behavior.
The AZBN says they created the Alternative to Discipline (ATD) program, formerly known as CANDO) “as an attempt to promote early intervention and ongoing treatment and practice monitoring of nurses requiring treatment…” This program is not only for those with substance use disorders but also for medical and mental health conditions. It allows nurses to continue practicing while in rehabilitation and ongoing treatment.
How to Enter the ATD Program
First off, we want to remind you that if you have been caught with a substance use disorder, do not voluntarily surrender your license or automatically enter an intervention program. There may be other alternatives. Let’s discuss your options before you do make any decisions that will impact your career.
Now, here are the ways nurses can get referred to the ATD program:
- Employer Referral
- Board Staff Referral based upon Complaint or Application/Renewal Information
- Legal Agencies/Regulatory Referral
- Other Community Referral
What Does the Program Entail?
So, if you enroll in this program, what exactly can you expect? For starters, you will have to get an evaluation and provide proof of your current condition or diagnosis.
What You’ll Have to Agree To
According to the AZBN, you can expect to be in the program for about three years. After that, you will most likely have to agree to seek substance use disorder treatment and regular evaluations. There are also nurse recovery groups that they will refer you to. And you can expect random drug screenings.
Also, even if your substance use disorder is not alcohol, you will most likely be required to abstain from it. On top of that, expect to have someone supervising your practice and other restrictions on your work.
There is a long list of eligibility requirements. To see the complete list, go here. The main things to know are that this is voluntary, you must admit to a substance use disorder, and you must have no nursing history of having caused severe harm or death to a patient. Also, you have to agree to only practice nursing in Arizona.
Let Us Help
If you feel you could be a candidate for this program, reach out to us before making a final decision. You can share your story with no judgment and know that we want to help you make decisions based on what’s best for you and your career.