Help me get my nursing license back – Board of Nursing revoked licence for drugs

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on June 12th, 2010 - Last updated: April 13th, 2023
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Dear Dr. Stanton;

I am truly in a bind.

Approximately 13 years ago, the Board of Nursing revoked my license for diversion of drugs.

I hit rock bottom and decided on my own that this was over forever.

I have been abstinent of narcotics since that time. I started a consulting business which has been fairly successful. I deal only with law firms. Last year, discussions with several law firms re medical/legal consulting prompted me to attempt to obtain my license back so that I could expand to include this new area.

The Board of Nursing agreed with the following stipulations: nursing refresher courses and enlisting in the nursing Peer Assistance Program. It would be on PAP’s recommendation that I could get my license back. This is a 3 year contract with PAP.

Attendance at 12 Step is mandatory with no alternatives. Random urine screens are also part of the PAP program as well as attendance at a nurses’ support group. I have complied with everything they have asked. I have been in the program one year, and my nursing license was returned to “Inactive.” I will complete my nursing refresher courses in 2 weeks. All I had to do was to wait on PAP’s approval.

Three weeks ago I had a dental problem and took narcotics for pain with the dentist’s approval until the pain was abated by a double root canal. I reported this incident to PAP as I am required. Because I did not contact them in a timely fashion (I did so one day following the dental procedures rather than before I took the drugs), PAP said that I have relapsed. I was asked to have another Psych evaluation done.

This was performed my a non-credentialed person. He is studying to be a Social Worker. This man is also from a 12 Step modality. He recommended an Intensive Drug/Alcohol Treatment program. PAP has agreed and unless I attend (minimum 28 days, $12,000 cheapest program found), I will be dropped from PAP and reported to the Board of Nursing for non-compliance and breech of contract.

I have seen an attorney but he doesn’t really seemed ‘fired up’ over this. I am indeed worried and in addition to any advice you may have, I severely need to ask for something you have said on your web site that you cannot provide. Do you know of anyone in the area who can help, legally and/or psychologically? I will understand if you cannot help.

Thanks for being there, for your life, your studies and your writings,


P.S. While in compliance with PAP, I have since day one registered complaints about the 12 Step requirement. I have even used references from your literature, Charles Bufe and others to back my position. All urine tests, even the one following the dental problem, during this year have been negative. The coordinators of my nurse support groups (who have seen me regularly for one year) have written letters to PAP stating no evidence whatsoever of relapse.

Dear D:

Yours is a great case, or at least as good as they get. Let me state why:

  1. The thing is that nurses and physicians who write me in a similar vein, even when they hate what they’re asked to do vis-a-vis “recovery,” are forced to go along with these 12-step, abstinence requirements, because theirs is the only game in town. I mean, who else is going to give you a medical/nursing license? You, although you obviously want your license back, have another way of making a living to tide you over for the duration.
  2. You endeavored to go along with their program. In other words, it’s not as though you’ve come in and said, “I disagree with this whole procedure and refuse to meet your requirements.” Rather, only when their demands clearly veer off the charts of rationality (and I think most sensible people would agree this is the case), did you object. I think this gives you an opening. In other words, the question is, if this becomes public, will they be hurt by it? Of course, how bad would it be for you if this becomes public?
  3. I am both a psychologist and an attorney, but I am not licensed to practice law in your state. An attorney may be granted a special dispensation to work in a state. Alternately, you can try to interview attorneys (you might try the ACLU) and tell them that you have an out-of-state attorney who can assist in this process. Make clear that you feel strongly about this and find an attorney who can go to the wall with you.
  4. The law works for you when the government requires you to attend AA, since a series of cases at the State Supreme Court and Federal Appeals Court levels (with no diverging opinions) have held that a government body cannot require a person to attend AA because of its religious content (this violates the 1st Amendment’s separation of church and state, called the “establishment”—no establishment of religion by the government—clause). The same does not apply with private employers, since the idea is you can go to another employer. A state agency with sole power for medical licensure parallels the government enacting requirements.

All of this has risks and can be stressful, but then, you’ve already experienced some stress over this, have you not? Moreover, what you are doing is so painfully right that you should take action.

All best,

Further Reading


Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.


  • Laura says:

    I am a nurse practitioner and my 3 years ago I went to a primary care provider for help with my sleep and I told him I was drinking wine at night to sleep. I had just lost my mother and went through a divorce. He immediately reported me to the board of nursing in my state. I was very compliant with all their recommendations. I lost a job in April of 2021 and then couldn’t afford all the urine tests at $100 each 3 times per month. I hope I don’t offend anyone by this but I do not like AA as I find them quite judgemental among other things. I do like Smart Recovery. Because I was “non-compliant” with my urines because I couldn’t afford them they suspended my licenses. I got a lawyer who did absolutely nothing for me $2000 later. I moved from that state to another to be closer to my 4 daughters who are grown. I never drank until I was about 53 and now am almost 60 years old. I have been a nurse and NP for over 30 years but have minimal retirement because of the divorces. I have also suffered from OCD, PTSD and major depression since high school with waxing and waning severity. This nursing board issue is killing me and have thought of suicide but that is not the answer. I don’t know if I should even keep trying at this time with all the expense and overwhelming stress. Thank you for listening.

  • Lisa Marie James says:

    I lost my LPN license in2014. Faced having a felony and or misdemeanor charges and an horrible attorney in Oakland county Mich. He had me ignore letters from the nursing bureau at that time. I was given a court appointed attorney then and Fortunately I received no charges, passed 1 1/2 years of drug tests. But in regards to my LPN license when I finally contacted the state they wanted me to do a very costly program and I could not afford it and I didn’t have anyone to care for my young grandson. I am ready to try and get my license back now and need to know how to start the process. Who can help me?

  • Candy Lucas says:

    I lost my LPN license 10 years ago for taking .meds that were D/C’d but nevertheless I was so wrong 10 years later wana know how or what steps to take to get back at least just half of what I was

  • Tyna says:

    I had a DUI and lost my license. I do not drink or take any illegal drugs. However, I made the mistake of driving home with a sleeping pill. My license has been revoked. I have been denied last year. The amount of stress I’m experiencing is overwhelming. The expenses has left me nearly homeless. There are simply, Not enough Support Groups out there for nurses going through a very difficult time. It is desperately needed and I would like to start one. I feel the nursing board judges nurses unfairly to the maximum punishment. I do not drink or take any illegal drugs and feel we are judged poorly on the boards policy that really needs to be adjusted. When a nurse get his or her license revoked from the nursing board, your life long studies of becoming a nurse is over without really listening to the individual’s story. We all make mistakes, we are human. There has to be justice to this injustice treatment!

  • Susan says:

    Hi Mr. Peele. I also lost my LPN license, actually, voluntarily surrendered following a diversion accusation. I was 2 years into the 5 year nursing recovery mandates in Mass., could not find a job as anything else, and took a job as a private duty PCA which I hoped would last until my license was fully reinstated. Being myself, I find it hard to lie to folks, so I did tell my employer what had happened. She turned on me at one point and reported me to Mass. Dept. of Health. Otherwise no one would have been the wiser. My urines were honestly clean, and I did NOT use ANYTHING during the 2-1/2 years I was in the program, nor have I since. I’m 69 now but would love so very much to be able to supplement my SSI check of $650 a month with a paycheck. Any suggestions?

  • SUSAN says:

    Hello I lost actually surrendered by nursing license in Ohio in 2016 fit to I couldn’t handle the program requirements of paying for drug screens by command in a time frame they wanted. I take care of my mother and have a small child alone. Did the very expensive 5 day a week rehab all day for many weeks with no income and did the AA which was ok but I couldn’t afford daycare or get work I was notified all this was after years of prescribed narcotic for a old neck fracture and got addicted over time noticed that deversion of waste narcotics was now a reality. Got accused by some very rude out of control New grads of being impaired which I was very slightly from 8 hours prior use. Horrible and way out of control inexcusable behavior I had been trying to take care of on my own but prayed I could do it on my own. Well I couldn’t and got caught the board told a very expensive lawyer I got he could prove diversion so lawyer said I do the expensive program and get felony charges my record would be published and my life over. I have been completely clean and love my current job but being a nurse is my world and my identity. I need it back. I can’t do the time commitment is there anything that I can do to get it back. I feel like I lost my identity and I don’t know how to not say. Oh ya I’m a nurse. I do it on accident and I’m afraid it is illegal to accidentally say I’m a nurse. Help. It’s it possible to fix this without they humiliation that I feel I could not mentally recover from. Please

  • Lisa says:

    I received my BSN and a masters in healthcare administration. I was innjured in the job and was written heavy duty narcotucs which i became heavily addicted to them. I wrote fraudulent scripts and successfully completed drug court and all charges were noelle prosecuted (dropped) I want my life back. I loved being a nurse and always had rave reviews from my supervisors. Where don’t ngo front hear??i want my life back and need advice , please give me some advice , is this s lost cause or may I have a shot ?

  • Jo-Ann says:

    I am presently where you are. I lost my license for 1yr. Stipulations were I could work in a position where I had constant supervision and did not have any contact with narcotics. Which I did. I got a job working at the local community college, teaching the CNA program…Perfect! Right??? Wrong !! My supervisor was supppose to send into the State every 3mos and update on my services. I did not one thing wrong. Well, my super “forgot” after numerous reminders to send it in. Shortly after I recieved a letter stating I no longer had a licence for being non-compliant. I cried my heart out and called my super in tears to tell her I could no longer work at the college, when she asked me why I told her “because YOU never sent in the update x’s 9mos of working!!!!!! can you imagine??? Well, that was about 10-12 yrs ago. I barely scrape by on the money I get from disibility. I lost my home after 23yrs, my husband died and I went from living in a beautiful 9rm house to a 4rm apt, with 2 kids. So, I know what you are going thru. I am putting together a letter to the dept of nursing now. There is no reason why they should deni me my license. If I had the money I would give it to an Attorney, but moey is scarse these days. Imagine the money I lost over the years? When I was terminated I was making between 52 and 63.00 per hr. How do I put a figure on that? So, keep your head up, don’t give up, and like you said “you are a nurse”!!!! Good Luck to you and I will be prayding fpr you. Give it to the Lord, I promise He will be right there with you. Put your faith in the Lord and let me know how you make out. What State are you in, I am in R.I.! God Bless you…

  • Eileen says:

    Dr. Stanton, I am near despair to ever get my MA RN license back. 6 yrs ago I was prescribed Percocet for back pain. I was given 80-120/mos. I got hooked on them, ran out and started taking our wasted narcotics (I was an ER nurse for 18 yrs and its so easy to take meds you are supposed to be discarding in this setting). I NEVER deprived a patient of their pain meds and I never was accused of that. I wanted to stop so I called my doctor and told her not to prescribe me narcotics anymore. Then I gave my notice for the hospital I was misbehaving at (I worked for an agency so went to several different hospitals, but this is the only one I diverted at). I haven’t touched a narcotic since. A month after I had left that job I got the letter from the MA BON. I ended up surrendering my license because I couldn’t handle the stress of the investigation anymore…my marriage was suddenly on the rocks and I was devasted. I didn’t do the recovery program they offered for several reasons:1) My children were very young and I couldn’t commit to 5 days a week program. 2) it was expensive and I just lost a very lucrative job my family had expected to be there for 20 more yrs. We bought our home counting on my career.3) I had stopped my behavior independently and didn’t feel I needed help 4)I cannot tolerate 12 step programs. The drug screening was also VERY expensive and would go on for years to come. I became terribly depressed. I tried taking a phlebotomy class so at least I could stay in my general field and do something I was very good at already. I finished the course and got a job but the day before I was to start they rescinded the job offer because they saw the license surrender in their background check. It is also found by anyone (probably my children and friends) on Google. So I can’t get a decent job to pay for a lawyer and the drug testing. Besides a lot of nurses I have heard of can’t get a job anyways because the are required to reveal that they are on probation, which lasts 5 yrs. Should I just give up? It haunts me 24/7. The shame the guilt. I AM a nurse…its part of who I am. Police would never loose their job or career over this…sex offenders have more rights than nurses. I used Percocet for 6 mos and stopped myself w/no help. haven’t had one narcotic since April 2011. Why can’t they give me a limited license (many jobs you don’t deal with narcotics), and then I’d have the money to do the drug testing. I asked the board if I could do hair test like every 6 mos so I wouldn’t have to pay for ua’s and wouldn’t have to be so stressed out that any day I could (which I did twice…I have ADD) forget to call or would not be able to get to a facility because I was on vacation. etc) You have to have the drug u done by 1:00 and you don’t know until you call in the morning. For 5 yrs minimum. Every day. And it adds up to @ $250 / mos. I used to make $52/hr. Now I make nothing. So should I give up? Its so impossible to get a job because I can’t admit being a nurse because they could easily look up my license or google me (why does she want to be a cashier if she is an RN?)so my ‘resume’ says homemaker and I can’t offer any skills. Any thoughts?

  • Deneale says:

    I’m so lost and in desperate need of help in getting my lpn license reinstated in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada… I am willing to do what ever necessary for my reinstation. I am4yrs alcohol free and wish for my career back and realize my mistakes I’ve made but never imagined it would impact my and the lives of everyone around me. I am heathly and healed and need a second second chance to prove. Any help wound be a blessing I could never imagine.

  • cari says:


    I voluntarily gave up my license back in 2008. I was clean from cocaine over two and a half years in the intervention project for nurses. I then failed a drug test taking a migraine medicine not thinking twice about failing a drug test. I.p.n. said I had to go through their in patient program in a hospital at my own expense and I just couldn’t afford it. All these past years I have been sober but unable to make the money I was making as a nurse. My parents are pushing me to try to obtain my license but im pretty sure the process is still corrupt with keeping u out of work an seeing their doctors an its all self pay. Any advice on what to do to get it back?

  • Ro says:

    Hi Mr. Peele, I lost my nursing License but it had nothing to do with Drugs. Can you help me the matter is very personal.

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