In 1983, a group of nurses met to discuss the problems faced by their colleagues with drug or alcohol problems including safety to practice, treatment options, public licensure sanction and lack of professional peer support. With $300 in start-up funds from the Colorado Nurses Association to serve nurses with substance abuse issues, Nurses United for Recovery, Support and Education, Successfully Established (N.U.R.S.E.S. of Colorado, later PAS) was incorporated in April 1984. Funding was awarded through a $9,500 contract with the Colorado Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division to provide Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services to nurses in the Denver/Boulder area.
Additional funding was awarded by The Colorado Trust to expand services statewide in 1985. With the Colorado Nurses Association, the agency proposed legislation to provide an alternative to discipline program for nurses licensed in Colorado. In 1989, the agency began collaborating with the Colorado Pharmacist Recovery Network and the Colorado Pharmacist Society to develop a Pharmacist Alternative to Discipline program, which along with the nursing program, was implemented through legislation in the early 1990s.
Throughout the 1990s the agency continued to expand. Contracts and grants were awarded from the Colorado Board of Pharmacy; Colorado Board of Nursing; the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, SAMHSA; Colorado Board of Dental Examiners; and the Colorado Department of Corrections. N.U.R.S.E.S of Colorado was renamed Peer Assistance Services, Inc. in 1994 to better reflect the work of the agency.
From 2000 to 2004 PAS was awarded expanded funding from the Colorado Department of Corrections to provide case management services to offenders statewide, addition funds were awarded by ADAD to expand EAP services to healthcare workers and small businesses, and services for professionals were expanded to veterinarians and attorneys.
In 2005, PAS expanded prevention programming through a grant awarded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). The PAS Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Program was implemented. A Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Program was developed and implemented through a grant from the Administration for Children and families. Youth in the Workplace, also funded by CSAP, was implemented in multiple states.
Over the next several years additional grant funded programs included: Adams County Connections youth mentoring program (DOE), HIV/Hepatitis C and Substance Abuse Prevention with Minorities in Re-entry from Incarceration (CSAP), Healthy Relationships Program (ACF), Paul D. Coverdell Drug-Free Workplace Program, Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program and Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) (CSAT).
In 2008, PAS was awarded the Nursing Peer Health Assistance/Nurse Alternative to Discipline Program. In 2011, PAS was awarded SBIRT II funding through the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health.
The Veterinary Peer Health Assistance Program and the Mental Health Professionals Peer Health Assistance Program contracts were awarded to PAS in January 2013 and 2014, respectively.
During fiscal year 2012-2013, PAS provided direct services to over 10,000 individuals in Colorado. PAS operates in 12 locations throughout the state and we continue to seek opportunities for expanded services in the areas of substance abuse prevention and intervention.