Central Indiana nurses and addiction

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind--It’s a bigger problem than you might think--some nurses using their position to abuse prescription drugs.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office aggressively looks for it and recently went after the licenses of two local nurses.

However, there are programs in place to help nurses suffering from addiction.

Laura Collins, a Muncie nurse, was fired from a retirement home in 2013 for stealing over 400 opioid pain pills.  She used  her own children’s names to score the drugs and she even forged a doctors signature along the way.  Now, the attorney general has filed a formal complaint against her.

Collins is just one example of a problem facing the medical profession across the country and in the Hoosier state.

"Often times they get rundown, they get overworked and they tend to look towards alcohol or drugs to cope," said Chuck Lindquist, program director for the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program or ISNAP.

ISNAP oversees and monitors nurses who are impaired on the job. The program encourages recovery along the way and protects the general population from intoxicated medical practitioners.

"If a nurse is in the throws of their addiction and they want medication what better place to work than a healthcare setting," said Lindquist.

In a separate case, a Richmond nurse recently failed a drug test after her own patient reported her for being under the influence.  The Indiana attorney general is also taking action against that nurse.

"There are about 125,000 nurses in the state of Indiana and 10 percent of those or about 12,000 nurses are in recovery or struggling from an addiction," said Lindquist.

Once a nurse is referred to ISNAP, there are several steps in place to get that person back in their scrubs.  Everything from workplace monitoring, random drug screens, therapy, recovery meetings and more.

"We treat the addiction with compassion and then hold them accountable to their recovery program and then get them back to what they love doing and that's nursing," said Lindquist.

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