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C5. Substance Use Disorder and Healthcare Professionals

C5. Substance use disorder and
healthcare professionals


Learner category:

  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will be taken through how to identify risk factors that can lead to an increase in substance use
  • Participants will explore the facts surrounding Healthcare workers and substance use disorder and learn how to identify it in the workplace
  • Participants will be encouraged to choose to look past the stigma associated with substance use disorder to help healthcare workers with substance use disorder get the help they need to practice safely


Purpose: This presentation aims to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder (SUD) in nurses. It is an issue that requires a multifaceted approach to realize it’s scope, to detect diversion early, to prevent diversion from happening, and to help those with SUD before they cause irreparable harm to themselves and others. Evidence: I am a nurse with SUD. I have been in recovery for 15 years now. I want to share my experience to raise awareness, decrease stigma, and show that recovery is possible. Description: There are 41 states that have alternative to discipline programs for nurses with SUD. These programs promote public protection by using evidence-based treatment for nurses with SUD. Not enough practicing nurses know about these programs. I went through such a program in Wisconsin and it saved my career maybe even my life. Validation and Relevance and Future Implications: The American Nurses Association estimates that six to eight percent of nurses use alcohol or drugs to an extent that is sufficient to impair professional performance. Others estimate that nurses generally misuse drugs and alcohol at nearly the same rate (10 to 15 percent) as the rest of the population. I was one of those nurses. It is hard to talk about it, but we need to talk about it. By raising awareness and decreasing stigma, we can identify and help those struggling find the help they need to practice safely.


Kristin Waite-Labott, BSN, RN
Rogers Behavioral Health, Wisconsin, USA

Kristin is the President of the Eastern Wisconsin IntNSA Chapter and has been a RN since 1991. After losing much to alcohol and drug addiction, she turned her life around. She now works in behavioral health, has published a book, “An Unlikely Addict”, about her story of recovery and works with others who struggle. Her blog,, focuses on the reality of the opiate problem in this country and offers real solutions. She has appeared locally in news stories about opiate addiction and on the show “The Doctors” for an episode on healthcare workers and addiction. She is committed to making a difference.

Comments (10)


    Thank you for your presentation and sharing your story. I had previously read your book and always recommend to other nurses. Stay Well!

    1. Kristin Waite-Labott

      Thank you Suzanne! For reading my book and recommending it. I really feel we need to share our stories to encourage others, together we can make a difference. Thank you again!


        I have physician who is looking for slides on the prevalence of SUD in nursing and most common out comes, Can I put them in touch with you ? my email is

        1. Kristin Waite-Labott

          Hi Suzanne,
          Thanks for reaching out, please feel free to share my email, I also sent you an email.

  2. Dennis Hagarty

    Thank you Kristin for your presentation. Although you seemed so at ease it is not easy sharing the vulnerabilities of personal addiction with such a wide audience. As you said nurses are at high risk of talking ourselves into those little things that lead to escalating into addiction. Becoming aware of the signs can help prevent what you went through by being incarcerated. Help is available just ask.

    1. Kristin Waite-Labott

      Thank you Dennis. No it isn’t easy to talk about, although the more I share my story, the more comfortable it becomes. My hope is that by sharing my story, others will find the courage to share their stories. Together we can help those who struggle before they lose as much as I did.
      Thank you for taking the time to listen to my webinar.
      All my best to you,

  3. Sarah Oyler

    Hi Kristin,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I agree with the others who mentioned that it is so hard to share vulnerabilities– it is very courageous to share these stories– addiction does not discriminate and this information is extremely helpful to us, your colleagues. I appreciate your openness and I feel much more knowledgeable after listening to your webinar.
    Be well,

    1. Kristin Waite-Labott

      Thank you Sarah, I appreciate it very much.
      Be well,

  4. Virginia Coletti

    good advise for all nurses, than you

  5. Rachel Shuster, BSN, RN, CARN, CAAP

    So much of your story resonates with mine, as you know. Thank you so much for your vulnerability, sharing some of your journey with us. I appreciate you, friend!

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