Overcoming Opioid Addiction as a Nurse – Rob’s Story

Taking the first reluctant steps into treatment

Nurse addition success storyRob first came to Kolmac as part of an employee assistance program through his employer. “I was working as a nurse in a hospital when my employer sent me to treatment. I was stealing drugs from work because I had an opioid addiction,” he recalls.

He started out at our Baltimore center because it offered a unique program. The location was appealing because it had a continuing care group for healthcare professionals.

Overcoming struggles with honesty and mindset

Rob was initially reluctant to come to Kolmac for treatment. “Before Kolmac, I self-identified as an addict and received IPO elsewhere. I came to Kolmac after a relapse, but I didn’t really come willingly. I did it for my family and my job, but not for me. It took a while for my mindset to change.”

He also struggled with something else when he started treatment. “I wasn’t honest at first, but the more I was honest, the better I got,” Rob explains.

Dealing with the stressful fallout of addiction

It didn’t take long to face the professional consequences of addiction. According to Rob, “I lost my job about a week after going into treatment. Then, I got my nursing license suspended nine months later. It brought up a lot of stress and emotions for me and my family. I didn’t know how everything was going to work out and there was a lot I couldn’t control.”

During this time of stress, Rob relied on Kolmac and the members of his continuing care group. “Talking things through made a big difference.”

However, it was sometimes difficult to be patient with the treatment process. “Healthcare workers are pragmatic and want to solve problems quickly, but it’s not that simple with addiction recovery. It takes time,” Rob says.

The value of continuing care at Kolmac

It did take time, but Rob started seeing real results. “I just kept doing the right thing and everything started to work out. Kolmac teaches you simple skills that build on each other. It’s a gradual process, but amazing things happen when you stick with it.”

Despite his outlook now, there was a point when Rob wanted to give up on continuing care. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore because I had been doing it for so long. I wanted to leave my group, but everyone made me realize how far I had come. They convinced me not to give up,” he recalls.

All the hard work was worth it because Rob is clean and sober today. He is also able to work as a nurse again. “I had to be in treatment for one year and then it took another year for the paperwork to process. It took a long time, but I have my nursing license, free and clear, for the first time since 2013,” Rob explains.

Serving as an inspiration for other people in recovery

Rob is happy that his story can get people talking about addiction among healthcare workers. “There’s a lot of stigma about addiction in the healthcare field. One of my coworkers, who didn’t know I was an addict, said that no one in our profession ever makes it through treatment. That was discouraging, but it also shows that we need to talk more about this problem,” he explains.

He also has some advice for other people who are struggling with addiction. “Just get honest about your problem and commit to living your life differently. Your success at Kolmac is up to you. You get out of it what you put into it.”

Rob’s commitment to his recovery has paid off. In addition to his work at Kolmac as a patient advocate, he has been hired to work as a nurse again.

According to Rob, “My recovery is not something to be ashamed of. It’s an asset. I told my new employer about my addiction, my treatment at Kolmac and what I’m doing now. They were impressed that I was so open about the subject and that I’ve stayed clean.”

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