When a nurse struggles with substance use, he or she may worry that seeking help will result in career damage. In fact, self-reporting a problem with drugs or alcohol can help protect your ability to practice as a nurse.

Learn how a DUI or drug diversion arrest could impact your Georgia nursing license.

Understanding mandatory reporting requirements

Other nurses and nurse employers must report certain actions by other nurses to the state board of nursing. This includes instances in which another nurse cannot practice with safety and skill because of drug or alcohol use.

A nurse can also self-report to the Georgia Board of Nursing if he or she:

  • Diverted drugs from the health care facility and/or patients
  • Recently entered or completed treatment for substance use disorder
  • Received a positive test for recent drug or alcohol use
  • Uses and/or has a dependency on alcohol or drugs

Seeking treatment for substance use as a nurse

After self-reporting or learning that another individual reported you to the nursing board, entering treatment can help you retain your Georgia nursing license. You must follow these steps:

  • Attend inpatient or outpatient substance use treatment by an authorized provider.
  • Follow all recommendations of the treatment provider, including limitations on your professional practice.
  • Give your treatment provider consent to release your treatment plan, records, assessments and discharge plan with the date to the nursing board.

Once you finish the recommended course of substance use treatment, your doctor must provide the Georgia Board of Nursing with a discharge summary. This document must detail the type of treatment you received, your diagnosis, prescribed medications, results of drug screenings, ongoing treatment recommendations and a statement indicating whether you can safety and skillfully practice nursing.

Generally, the board will follow the recommendations of your treatment provider as long as you maintain a substance-free lifestyle. This includes information about whether the state should limit your nursing practice in any way for patient safety and quality care.