Peer Assistance Advisors' Treatment Recommendations

AANA Peer Assistance Advisors' Recommendations for the Treatment of the Disease of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) in Anesthesia Professionals and Students

Anesthesia professionals and students have unique treatment needs for a variety of reasons including, controlled substance availability, potential loss of profession when inadequately treated, professional guilt and shame, and a tendency to intellectualize the treatment process, among others.
Following are the Peer Assistance Advisors' treatment recommendations for all anesthesia professionals and students with SUD:
  • In the event of an intervention, it is imperative to follow the Intervention Essentials   
  • Seek inpatient Treatment at a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certified Inpatient Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Center experienced in treating healthcare professionals
  • Completion of a minimum of 28 days (also termed “short term”) of inpatient treatment is recommended, with 90 days of treatment (also termed “long term”) being most desirable and offering the highest success rate.
  • The treatment center chosen should at a minimum include:
    • Comprehensive evaluation and treatment recommendations by an American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) member certified 
      by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) committed to evaluating and treating anesthesia professionals in abstinence based recovery models in accordance with other safety sensitive occupations such as aviation, department of defense and department of transportation.
    • Evaluation by an American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) boarded Addiction Psychiatrist where appropriate. 
    • Appropriate neuro-psychiatric and or psychometric testing where appropriate.
    • When detoxification is medically indicated, inpatient medically supervised detoxification.
    • Emphasis on a long term 12 step model of abstinence based recovery.
    • Evaluation of suitability for, and timing of, the return to anesthesia practice as CRNA face unique obstacles and risks that can threaten their ability to maintain sobriety.
We do not advocate outpatient treatment, including Intensive Outpatient Treatment, for the disease of addiction in anesthesia professionals and students due to the high rate of recidivism. Any relapse after outpatient treatment should only be treated under the long term inpatient modality.

 AANA Peer Assistance Advisors' Recommendations


The AANA recognize that the disease of addiction is characterized by a chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal process that may destroy the professional, the family, and the anesthesia community (see Resources, Professional Practice, for AANA Position Statement Number 1.7, Substance Misuse and Chemical Dependency).

In the interest of patient safety and professional well-being, AANA Peer Assistance Advisors committee investigates the availability and effectiveness of treatment modalities specific to anesthesia professionals and students, and act as a resource to the community regarding SUD treatment issues.


 Who needs treatment?


Guidelines to help recognize impaired colleagues by the symptoms of drug misuse and SUD in anesthesia professionals  


 Model Policies


​Follow this link to model policies and procedures for departments of anesthesia on SUD, re-entry contracts, and random screening for drugs and alcohol.  (link to follow)


 Treatment Success

SUD in anesthesia professionals and students can be successfully treated. The Peer Assistance Advisors committee is aware of the essential role of appropriate, adequate, and effective treatment in recovery and potential return to anesthesia practice.
Various treatment options exist for the disease of addiction. Success rates in the SUD treatment of the anesthesia professional or student vary widely between modalities. AANA recommendations are based on those modalities found through the years (since inception in 1983 assisting peers with SUD) to offer the highest rate of success.

 Health & Wellness Contacts

AANA Staff:
Julie Rice, AANA Manager Health, Wellness, and Peer Assistance Programs
(847) 655-1114

 Treatment Centers

​Links to some treatment centers experienced in treating healthcare professionals with chemical dependency.

 Post Treatment

Because all anesthesia providers face special occupational risks and challenges by their exposure and access to drugs of abuse, the Peer Assistance Advisors' post-treatment recommendations include:
Compliance with all treatment center recommendations for continuing care after discharge, such as:
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Recovering professionals meeting attendance
  • Active participation in the 12 step recovery community
  • Monitoring of random urine drug screens.   

See also:

AANA Peer Assistance Advisors' Recommendation for Reentry of the Nurse Anesthetists or Student with SUD 

If you have any questions, please call the helpline above. ​

 SAMHSA Wellness

​The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a Holistic Guide to Whole-Person Wellness to encourage people with mental health and SUD to incorporate Eight Dimensions of Wellness into their lives.