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When difficulty in one’s life suddenly assumes unfathomable proportions the challenges one faces appear to be beyond solvable.
As a doctor, the consequences and implications that my sudden realization and awareness that I was an alcoholic and a drug addict were overwhelming and paralyzing. With the unconditional love and guidance from family, colleagues, and the Ohio Physician Health Program (OPHP), I was able to seek treatment at The Woods of Parkside in Columbus, Ohio, a State Medical Board endorsed facility. Knowing that OPHP was in some way involved in my situation was quite comforting even though I was not quite sure their level of involvement. Just knowing meant the world to me.
Once treatment at Parkside was completed the safety and security of the confined treatment program was no longer in place the prospects of my re-socialization into society and my medical practice were daunting. It was at that point of infancy in my recovery that OPHP, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous, became the life raft that I did not know I so desperately needed and required. The programs, educational tools, incentives, etc. that OPHP offered me have truly been life saving. The comfort, acceptance and guidance that OPHP has given me have made my transition from addiction to recovery something that has truly surprised me. I know that I could not have transitioned smoothly into recovery without OPHP. The OPHP team and program has given me the strength to achieve levels in my life heretofore unknown and attain a quality of life that has been remarkable.
I know that as I approach five years of continuous freedom from alcohol and drugs I owe a significant portion of the quality of my life to the benefits and resources the OPHP has provided to me and guided me toward. There is a debt to OPHP that I can never repay.
Moving forward I am certain that the OPHP will continue to be a vital part of not only my recovery, but my new life.Hide
In January 2001, my life crashed down around me as a result of the disease of chemical dependency. I had legal and professional consequences and did not know where to turn. Fortunately, OPHP was there to help pick up the pieces. A grief counselor that I saw after the death of my first husband referred me to OPHP. They explained the options for treatment and gave me a great deal of comfort.
During inpatient treatment, an OPHP case manager came to visit and further explained what would occur and how I should handle it. I was grateful to know that those that came before me blazed the trail of recovery and already navigated the legal system and a path through the medical board. When I was discharged, my OPHP case manager met me near my home and was also there during my medical board appearance.
Because of my legal consequences, I reported to the medical board for seven years. From the details of transmitting all of my urine results to the board to the pep talks on the phone, OPHP was there for me the entire time and believed in me. I will be forever grateful for OPHP and my case manager and the part they played in my recovery. Today, I have a life I could have never dreamed of and feel blessed to have all of the support I need.Hide
In the spring of 1995 things were not going well for me. My addiction to drugs and alcohol had landed me in trouble with everyone I had contact with. I had been arrested by the justice system for illegal processing of drug documents (forging prescriptions for myself) and that had gotten the attention of the State Medical Board of Ohio. I won’t even go into the details of my issues of my wife, children, siblings, friends and employer. I had been living in constant fear, continuing to use, knowing that sooner or later I would get found out and facing that mess, or quitting drugs and alcohol now, which evoked even more fear because I didn’t know how to live without them. Paralyzed, I was unable to make a decision until it was made for me.
Landing in jail and dealing with the courts and medical board were not enough for me to hit bottom. All of the classic addict behaviors were in full bloom and there was still enough denial to name a new river for. I smiled a lot and tried to convince everyone around me that I had seen the light and was now on the right track. I was quite sure that I could will myself from drinking and using until the heat was off and things would return to “normal”. I had been shocked when in treatment, and going to those bothersome 12 step meetings, that people told me to my face that I was full of shit and was headed for more trouble. They were right and more trouble did come my way as dropping clean urines became more problematic than anticipated.
During this time it was recommended that I contact OPHP (it was stilled called OPEP at that time). I was told they were physician advocates and that they would help me through my professional issues so I could continue to practice medicine. My first contact was with Ed. It didn’t take him long to figure me out either. After hearing my story and interpretation of it, he told me I had a lot of work to do and that regular meeting attendance and monitoring of my recovery, including urine drops, was the core of the program. After hearing this it seemed to me that OPHP was just another group of authority figures telling me what I had to do. I put off signing my agreement with them not realizing that my self will was putting me in a deeper hole. Not surprising, I continued to use and lose the game of “musical urine drops”. I ended up in treatment a second and then third time. The medical board got tired of waiting and in January 1996 summarily suspended my medical license.
Despite myself, some positive things were happening. In between my second and third treatment centers, I did sign up with OPHP and somehow Ed and Barry didn’t seem so bad. Barry actually explained to me what running on self will really meant. It appeared that they did have my interest at heart, and I started to listen. I had gone to a number of 12 step meetings by then and it also occurred to me that people really were able to stop drinking and using, and maybe even I could stop despite my fears. I took some advice and actually went to 90 meetings in 90 days. I managed to put together 89 days clean and sober. My last relapse was the day of my court hearing. Barry and my support group told me I should have someone with me that day. I told them I would be fine. My court case was scheduled for that morning, but my case kept getting delayed later in the day. I was so nervous I did not know what to do, so I did what I always did. At lunch I went across the street to a bar and knocked down several drinks. Later that afternoon I got treatment of lieu of conviction for my crime, but the bad part was I that I had fallen off the wagon and again, could not stop on my own. It only took about 2 weeks for me to drop dirty urine. I was back in treatment for the third time in 9 months, and this time without a medical license. Barry was firm, but kind and supportive. He told me everything would be ok and he was right. I had hit bottom and I finally understood powerlessness and the essence of the first step.
Even though I didn’t realize it, getting pulled out of my work situation was the best thing for me at the time. I spent 15 weeks at Sheppard Hill and during that time I also was able to grasp the essence of step 2 and 3. I learned behaviors and tools that have stuck with me to this day. Before I was released, Barry came to see me and we made plans for my monitoring. At that time the urines were collected at the OPHP office and Barry always made time for me. He guided me through the phases of my consent agreement with the State Medical Board. There were plenty of hurdles, but with his help, as well as my sponsor and support group, I was able to get through the process and keep my sanity as well. I now have 14 years in recovery and even though he is retired, Barry and I still keep in touch. I have tried to give back what was freely given to me, and have continued as a volunteer monitor for OPHP. It is hard to put into words the role OPHP played in my recovery, but this is one addict who will never forget.Hide