Magazine

From the June 2011 magazine.

Diagnosis Alcoholism, A Nurse's Story

Losing his medical license over painkiller abuse was the beginning of a sixteen year bout with alcoholism until one fateful incident

"I was quietly dismayed that going back into nursing would interfere with my daily drinking schedule."

I was thirty years old, working as a pediatrics nurse, father to a two year old boy and married to a woman who was also in the medical profession when my story began. My wife and I had decided to move away from the Greater Boston area, and bask in the scenic rural splendor of New Hampshire's Lakes Region. We were offered jobs in the largest hospital in the area, though I would have to switch from pediatrics to adult ICU.

Pediatrics is a practice setting where narcotics are used rather sparingly, whereas adult ICU is a setting where narcotiscs flow like water. I was stunned and fascinated at the same time, and within weeks I made a terrible decision. Never having sampled a street drug stronger than pot, I eventually found myself eagerly sampling all kinds of painkillers. In no time at all, I was taking foolish risks in my quest to get my next dose. Occasionally my denial would lift, and I would vow to knock it off. My love affair with narcotics lasted a little over four months before I was confronted. I was rather easy to identify because I never falsified clinical records, as do most nurses involved in "drug diversion". I merely falsified the narcotics control sheet. Therefore there were tons of sign-outs under my signature that seemingly ended right there with no falsified paper trail leading to an actual patient.

-- Dennis

Holderness, New Hampshire

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