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Addiction does not have to derail your nursing career

If you are a nurse and you are currently struggling with substance abuse problems, you may have concerns about how you will seek treatment and still keep your career. There is much at stake, but, as a health care worker, you have the right to fight for your job while you fight to get well.

Nurses in Arizona may be able to benefit from a program called CANDO, which stands for Chemically Addicted Nurses Diversion Option. You may be eligible for this program if you self-report criminal charges, such as DUI, or meet other criteria. This program is not easy, but you may explore this option as a viable way by which to protect your career as a health care professional.

Eligibility and requirements of the CANDO program

The CANDO program is overseen by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and is intended to provide nurses with access to resources and support when dealing with addiction. In order to be eligible, referral must come from one of the following:

  • Your employer
  • Regulatory board
  • Community referral
  • Other agencies
  • Self-referral

Patient safety is always the main priority for health care in Arizona, but, by allowing good nurses to keep their jobs and work under close supervision, a great benefit can be provided. A substance abuse problem should not preclude you from a fulfilling and successful career. If you are eligible for the CANDO program, you must meet the following requirements or risk losing your license, and, therefore, your career:

  • Three years of program supervision
  • Mandatory attendance in AA or NA
  • Chemical dependency program
  • Random drug screening
  • Abstinence from all addictive drugs and alcohol
  • Involvement with nursing school
  • Submission to certain restrictions at work
  • Involvement of medical care providers

This program is extensive and restrictive, and not everyone who wishes to complete the program will be able to do so. As relapse is common for individuals suffering from chemical dependency, the program will last for a period of three years.

How can you know your options?

If you know that you are experiencing problems associated with addiction or are dealing with negative reports from supervisors or co-workers, you would be wise to take quick action to protect your career and your health. Your job as a health care provider is important, but overcoming your specific health challenges is even more so. Find out if the CANDO program is an option for you, and learn how you can keep your career and secure the help you deserve.

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