IntNSA has a long and rich history which stretches back to 1974 when the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) during its biennial conference supported the establishment of the National Nurses Society on Alcoholism (NNSA). In 1975 the NNSA was officially formed as the nursing counterpart to the physician’s group The American Medical Society on Alcoholism. Over the next number of years, the NNSA Board was developed; steering committees were formed; educational seminars began to take place; a constitution was drafted; and position papers were published.
In 1983, NNSA decided to change its’ name to include all substances causing addiction. The organization, whilst retaining the same ‘NNSA brand’, was renamed the National Nurses Society on Addictions (NNSA). Efforts to support and increase awareness about addictions and the role and value of nursing resulted in its first publication Standards of practice in addictions nursing(1984), and the collaborative publication of The Care of Clients with Addictions: Dimensions of Nursing Practice by the ANA, NNSA, and the Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association (DANA)became available in 1987. By 1990, the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) had been developed; a new journal, Perspectives on Addictions Nursing,was regularly published, and the membership of NNSA had reached 1000 nurses.
Over the next decade NNSA’s focus was primarily engaged within the USA, but by 1997, members were taking an interest in what nurses were doing in other countries. For example, during similar time periods when NNSA was being formed, nurses in the UK had formed the Association of Nurses in Substance Abuse (ANSA), and nurses in Australia had established the Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association (DANA). Furthermore, although NNSA had a significant membership, there were two other nursing organisations with a focus on addiction: The Consolidated Association of Nurses in Substance Abuse (CANSA), and another Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association (DANA) which were USA based. In 2000, and in an effort to consolidate efforts, NNSA in discussion and agreement with CANSA and DANA agreed to merge and name the new organisation the International Nurses Society on Addiction (IntNSA).
Whilst opening its membership to ‘international members’ IntNSA primarily remained a USA focussed organisation reflecting the needs of its USA membership base. Efforts by the ‘international task force’ over the preceding 10 years, resulted in 2014, in the first appointment of a member from outside of the USAonto the Board of Directors. At the IntNSA strategic planning retreat held by the Board of Directors, in March 2015, this member presented a strategy and model for international development. This strategy was based on developing IntNSA mapped against World Health Organisational regions (i.e. African Region, Region of the Americas, South-East Asia Region, European Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Western Pacific Region).The full Board eagerly adopted this plan and presented to the wider membership at the AGM, the international strategy took on new energy to drive through these changes.
With this, it was understood that different regions must maintain their own identity reflecting individual cultural, political, and environmental characteristics. Ultimately the intention will be that each ‘region’ will have its own governing President and Board of Directors, which in turn, will feed into an ‘International Board’.
IntNSA is currently progressing this strategy but given the history and current profile of membership (predominately residing with the USA), these ambitions must be undertaken cautiously so that the needs and support of current members is safeguarded. We are also excited by the relaunch of our new website in ‘connecting all our members’ irrespective of geographical location within our community of practice app, and trust that as our membership expands internationally this will become a rich and diverse forum for discussion and debate on what ‘world class nursing care in the addictions field should be’. As we begin to grow we are delighted to report that since 2015, in addition to continuing to build our chapter membership within the USA, we have welcomed the following new Chapters: Ireland; Brazil; Canada; Holland; and the United Kingdom. We also launched the IntNSA European Region in Rotterdam in August 2018 and are confident that this will begin to build IntNSA’s membership among our European nurses.
Note: This DANA group was a USA formed group during this time period and no longer exists. It should not be confused with the Drug and Alcohol Nurses Association of Australasia – see https://www.danaonline.org
Dr Carmel Clancy, former Chair of the Association of Nurses in Substance Abuse (ANSA)(UK)
Note: We acknowledge that the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia (DANA) is a member of the WHO Western Pacific Region and in an effort not to duplicate or dilute effort IntNSA is currently exploring with DANA how to work collaboratively in supporting nurses from countries within this WHO Region working in the field of AOD.