Year of the Nurse Spotlight: Brittany – “I have taken my life back from booze.”

There is a strong cultural acceptance within our collective culture, but I think especially for nurses that feel they need a quick stress reliever. We are particularly complacent about alcohol’s overall impact on our lives. I believe there is a lot of shame attached to this as well.


Brittany is a wife, mother of 3, and nurse of almost 13 years.

Raised an ultra-conservative Mormon, Brittany never considered touching a drop of alcohol until after she experienced a crisis of faith and left her church nearly 6.5 years ago.

Once she got a taste of alcohol’s so-called benefits, the drink became increasingly difficult to put down, even as the consequences became increasingly unbearable.

This is an all too familiar tale for many of us.

In the interview below, Brittany bravely shares how she’s overcoming self-diagnosed perfectionism and codependency, (two common conditions for nurses), and how she decided to put down alcohol outside of any religious, moral code. Brittany lives alcohol-free because it’s right for her and her family. Choosing sobriety aligns with her newfound life of radical self-love and acceptance.

Recover & Rise: In your own words, tell us about your relationship to alcohol and why you choose not to drink.

Brittany: The problem with alcohol began as I left my religious community of my whole 29 years of life at the time. Religion had rules about abstaining from booze, so my husband and I had never touched it. My husband also began to drink at the same time, more often excessively than I, but I was right there with him when a lot of it was going on. I had graduated from school 5 years prior, but at the time I started to drink, I was a stay at home mom. After drinking for nearly 2 years, I decided to go back to work. I got my dream job, and it was a steep learning curve, very stressful too. My husband traveled for his job. Life was chaotic. We partied with our drinking neighbors regularly.

I realized a few times I had over done it and after a while I began to make risky choices like driving when intoxicated, I even went to work still buzzed once.

My tolerance was building. Working nights, I began to realize my body was feeling trashed. I was sick often between work stretches, and it also was causing problems in my relationship with my husband, his drinking was out of hand, being a functioning alcoholic. I was incredibly put out about his lack of self-control, and we had some big fights over booze. I decided I needed to address my own self and healing. It’s been about 1.5 years since I started addressing alcohol.

R&R: Are you working as a nurse now?

B: I’m a staff Labor and Delivery Nurse, I work LDRP, Level 2 NICU, Circulate C-Sections, and Triage as well as am a relief Charge Nurse.

R&R: What are your thoughts on drinking and our profession?

B: I have always thought of nurses as high risk for addiction. The job is emotionally demanding, and burnout is high. Stress is difficult to alleviate, and quick, go-to substances are commonly (utilized.)

How we view addicts we care about is far from how we as nurses see ourselves.

We are self-sacrificing. To a fault. We tend to be Type A, we question ourselves, and internally our confidence can waver. We are expected to GIVE GIVE GIVE at work and have enough to give at home too. Expected to help when the ship is sinking on our days off.

There is a strong cultural acceptance within our collective culture, but I think especially for nurses that feel they need a quick stress reliever. We are particularly complacent about alcohol’s overall impact on our lives. I believe there is a lot of shame attached to this as well.

There is also a brewing mommy wine culture that is becoming ever pervasive. Add that to nurse life, and you have a strong case for increased risk of alcohol and or substance abuse.

R&R: What tools do you use to stay sober? Are you in a recovery program?

B: Work, family, kids (3), housekeeping, exercise, occasional meditation, meeting with friends to stay connected in my free time. Listening to podcasts that are recovery related. I am a member of She Recovers, and I use my own learning and education.

R&R: How has recovery changed your life, personally and professionally? 

B: I feel more balanced in my work life and home life. There is little emotional energy spent on moderation. It has given me compassion for my addicted patients. It has given me a more profound view of the human experience, and I find that I am more fully present in my care. They say if you can’t learn to love yourself, you will have a hard time loving others. I have a deeper love for all those I come in contact with. (Recovery) has given me so much perspective and purpose. It has given me health and time. I am glad to see a shift in how we treat nurses and other medical professionals who have addiction issues.

R&R: Are you anonymous, or do you feel you can be public with your story?

B: I am public with close friends, some family, not too much my work family (nurses drink a lot socially, and I don’t want to appear self-righteous). I am very open about my faith transition and often meet with people that are looking for someone to listen to their faith crisis story.

R&R: Knowing what you know now, what do you want to share with nurses who might struggle with drinking? 

B: There is a way and path out should you want it for you!

R&R: Hospital Administration has a long way to go in supporting their employees who struggle and self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Anything you’d like to tell them? 

B: Supporting those in recovery is essential to keeping a healthy and satisfied workforce. Helping staff invest in self-care is key.

R&R: Thank you so much for sharing so openly! Where can we hear more about your liberation from Mormonism and overcoming codependency, perfectionism, and alcohol abuse? 

Listen to Brittany’s story on This Naked Mind with Annie Grace

Listen to Brittany’s crisis of faith, exit from Mormonism and newfound freedom HERE

Brittany Holley, RN, BSN

Are you a nurse with a recovery story to share and want to help end industry stigma? I want to interview you for the next Year of the Nurse Spotlight! (Anonymous stories accepted!)

Email me!

Are you struggling with drugs or alcohol and want to talk to someone who will understand?

Email me, or see my website for more info on co-creating a customized recovery plan together!

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