Kids like me are kids and adults of all ages whose parents are, or were, drug addicts and alcoholics, kids who have suffered, or who are suffering, abuse and neglect on multiple levels, and kids who are victims of bullying.
I believe everybody needs to know that addiction does not live only with poor people, or homeless people, or down-on-their-luck people. Addiction also lives with people who wear the name, ‘Professional’ such as lawyers, nurses, doctors, etc. Everybody should know that in spite of the addiction, there is always Hope.
A Personal Story of Addiction, Part 1
I cannot tell you my name, or where I live, or even the specialty within which I practice medicine. I cannot do so for I have been shamed, embarrassed, and at times stigmatized. Even today, years later, I fear retribution, liability, and even prosecution. Some of this may have been deserved at one time, but today my story is one of success. It is a story of hope, of support and of recovery. I share this intimate tale so that you, my colleagues and friends in the medical field, can hear the human side of addictive disease, of its treacherous grip, and of the freedom and confidence from which I have emerged from this terrifying illness.
My drug use did not begin until medical school. I was never a drinker in high school or even in college, nor did I use drugs socially. Then, one evening when I was finding it hard to stay awake to study for an organic chemistry exam, a friend directed me to some stimulants that were available in sample form. The result was perfect. I began using the pills, rather innocently, whenever I needed a boost. To me, it was like a cup of coffee, only better. I soon learned that I could order the pills on the Internet and have a supply whenever it was needed
Upon graduation, I entered practice determined to be the best doctor possible. I spent a great deal of time with my patients, who kept coming back. My patient load grew exponentially, and I had trouble keeping pace. I had no experience running a business, was working long hours, and was unable to juggle the growing load. I found myself taking more and more pills just to keep up, and then even more pills to get me to sleep again. I gave little thought to this drug use. After all, I was no street junkie making covert deals in dark alleys. I was a good doctor, with many patients, using my medical knowledge to make the path toward success a bit smoother. So I thought.
My drug use escalated. In addition to Internet orders I would write prescriptions in the names of my family members. Suddenly, my uncle had knee pain, my father-in-law back problems, my aunt arthritis. I did not think about the record I was establishing of their purported use, nor did I think about the records of my own prescribing practices. I was out of control, but getting by, taking many pills to get through each day.
Throughout this time I still felt on top. Despite my drug use, I was a physician with a thriving practice. I provided quality care and had no patient complaints. I had a wife and children that relied upon me and saw me as a great provider. My friends and family admired me. I was respected in the community. I enjoyed my status and felt it was deserved, having achieved academically as well as socially since childhood.
And then one day, the Drug Enforcement Agency came to the door inquiring about fraudulent prescriptions. The reality of the situation took months to sink in. My reaction was disbelief. I was no druggie engaged in covert activities, and I was certainly no criminal. I was an admired and respected physician. I was sure the entire misunderstanding would be cleared up with a smile and an apology. I could not have been more wrong.
The shame and magnitude of my tumble was immeasurable. Not only did I face the legal and professional ramifications of having written improper prescriptions, but I had to cope with the personal humiliation of a fall from grace. I was no longer the icon of success I had worked a lifetime to achieve. I was now tainted, not only in the eyes of my colleagues, but also, for the very first time, in my own.
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Next week, Part 2.
Thank You, for reading my column.
Write to me at “Kids Like Me” P.O. Box 354, Alamosa, CO 81101. If you know a kid like me, or parent, who does not have a Bible, but would like to have one, please, contact me and I will make sure he or she gets a Bible of their very own, “…and all the earth may know there is a God…” (1 Samuel 17:46, KJV).
Until next time, remember, Jesus Loves You, and JESUS IS LORD!