Q: What is the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP)?
A. The SARP is established in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 112, section 80F, alternative to disciplinary action for nurses who have alcohol and drug problems. All files pertaining to a nurse's participation in the SARP are kept strictly confidential. While SARP participation is confidential, communication among the SARP and the licensee, therapist, nurse employers, and other appropriate individuals is necessary, as specified in the Consent Agreement for SARP Participation (CASP). SARP is a five year program.

Q: What is the role of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Evaluation Committee (SAREC)?
A: The Board's appointed SAREC Members are volunteers who are responsible for evaluating SARP participants for compliance with their CASP. The Members make recommendations to the Board for changes to the SARP participants’ CASP that are consistent with board-approved SARP Policies.  

Q:  What is a Consent Agreement for SARP Participation (CASP)?
A:  A CASP is a legally-binding document. Signing this document outlining the nurse's individual recovery plan requirements is required of all SARP participants, with the understanding that the Contract is valid for at least five years. Contract requirements include formal therapy, toxicology screening, attending self-help groups, regular self-assessment of the individual's progress in recovery, and stipulations for employment, as well as the use of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Failure to comply with the terms of the CASP may result in termination from the SARP and referral to the Board for appropriate action.

Q: When can nurses begin participating in SARP?
A: SARP participation begins on the date that the applicant and the Board’s designated staff signs the applicants’ CASP.

Q: Can a nurse enroll in SARP in the absence of a complaint against the nurse’s practice?   
A: Yes. A nurse can enroll in SARP without a complaint.  Nurses are immediately referred to a designated provider for a SARP assessment.  Nurses are encouraged to begin to attend self-help groups to learn about substance abuse and dependence.  Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Narcotic Anonymous (NA) meetings are a valuable source of guidance, encouragement and assistance with learning how to maintain sobriety.

Q: When can a nurse resume nursing practice?
A: The SAREC must approve a SARP participant’s return to practice.  SAREC approval is based on an evaluation of the participant’s ability to practice safely.

Q: Does a SARP Participant need approval prior to accepting a nursing position?
A: Yes. A nurse must have all prospective nursing positions approved by the SARP Coordinator prior to accepting a nursing position. 

Q: How many nurses enroll SARP each year?
A: An average of 50 nurses enrolls in SARP each year.

Q: How many nurses complete SARP each year?
A: Approximately 60 percent of the nurses enrolled in SARP successfully complete the Program.

Q: What percentage of SARP graduates have had subsequent complaints related to substance abuse?
A: Approximately 10 percent of the SARP Graduates had another complaint related to drug violation after successfully completing the Program.

Q: How much does it cost to participate in SARP?
A: SARP participants are required to pay for 15 drug toxicology screens and individual therapy sessions. 

Q: Can a nurse travel while in SARP and should a nurse report weekend travel or short trips to a SARP Coordinator?
A: Yes, only with the approval of the SARP Coordinator. Once travel is approved the participant will contact the drug testing management company’s representative to request a list of collection sites in the area they plan to visit and test at the designated location if scheduled to test. 

Q: What should a Participant do if (s) he becomes ill and can not comply with the terms of their Consent Agreement for SARP Participation (CASP)?
A: Notify the SARP Coordinator immediately.

Q: What prescribed or over-the-counter medications are permissible for a SARP Participants?
A: SARP participant’s treatment provider may prescribe medication to treat a particular illness.  Participants must have all medications reviewed by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) and the SARP Coordinator.

Q: Will a SARP Participants’ nursing license status stay current online?
A: Yes. The MA nursing license status is current on the Board’s license verification website ‘check-a license’ throughout the time the nurse remains in SARP with contract restrictions.

Q: What happens to the nursing license after the nurse completes SARP?
A: At the end of 5 years of participation a nurse will be able to practice without restrictions.


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.