Tag: personal experience

Is My Dr. Stoned?

My Doctor Was an Addict

addiction in medicine

I’d like to share with you all a story. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s the story of the medical director at the first residential treatment center I went to.

See, the medical director was an addict. He was, and is, a talented doctor, but he struggles with the same disease I do – the insidious disease of alcoholism and addiction.

Find his story, and some of my thoughts on substance abuse in the addiction medicine field, below.

 

From Distinguished to Disgraced

While I don’t know my former doctor’s entire career, I have been able to piece together some basic facts. He was wildly successful. He’d practiced medicine in the addiction field since the mid 80’s. In the early 90’s, he founded a prominent Florida treatment center.

So began his climb up the ladder of success. The treatment center took off right away, offering a diverse and holistic range of services to those struggling with addiction. My former doctor was, in large part, to thank for this success. He brought to the table an innovative and unique approach.

I ended up in rehab at this facility in 2007. By that time, my former doctor had been practicing addiction medicine for almost thirty years. To say he was an expert is a vast understatement.

However, his days at the treatment center were numbered. I stayed there for almost five months. After graduating, I continued to see him one-on-one for my psychiatric needs. His knowledge allowed him to suggest a range of helpful meds for my dual-diagnosis issues.

He was fired from the treatment center, and was asked to resign from the board of directors, about a year and a half after I graduated. This was mid 2008. By this time, I’d switched doctors. It seems that, somewhere along the line, he’d also switched. He’d switched from treating addiction to battling it personally.

I remember seeing him at a Blockbuster in late 2007. It was early evening and I was there with my halfway house roommates. He was disheveled and falling down drunk. When I walked over to talk to him, it took him several moments to recognize who I was.

I don’t know what he’s up to today. I believe he still maintains a private practice. In many ways, I’m sure he’s still successful. What I don’t know is if he’s sober. I don’t know the state of his soul. I don’t know whether, when he wakes in the morning, he can stand to look at himself in the mirror.

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Addiction in Addiction Medicine

My former doctor’s story is an interesting one. I’m not so sure it’s a unique one, though. I’ve heard of, seen, and experienced firsthand how often doctors fall into active addiction.

Think about it – peoples’ lives are literally in a doctor’s hands. That has to be incredibly stressful. Couple that with the fact that doctors have access to a whole range of prescription medicine, including opioids, benzo’s, amphetamines, and even barbiturates.

It seems almost natural that doctors may self medicate. It also seems natural that, for some, they may fall into addiction. After all, addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful. It doesn’t discriminate based on education, professional success, financial success, medical knowledge, or intellect. It just destroys.

doctors with addiction

It’s hard to find accurate information on the prevalence of addiction in the field of addiction medicine. I’m willing to bet the numbers are surprisingly high, though. If being a doctor is stressful, imagine how stressful it must be to specialize in helping those struggling with addiction. Imagine how stressful it must be to be almost powerless to help those who so desperately need your help.

Let me clarify that last sentence. I don’t think doctors are powerless to help addicts and alcoholics. Rather, I think that long-term recovery must come from within. It must come from a spiritual source. Doctors and medicine can only take addicts and alcoholics so far.

So, image the pressure and heartache that doctors working in the treatment industry must feel on a daily basis. It makes sense that some may turn to chemicals in an attempt to feel better.

This man’s doctor turned him into an addict

Helping Addicted Doctors

The question then becomes how treatment centers and the recovery community can best help doctors struggling with addiction. How can we help those who are supposed to help us?

Well, there are a ton of programs in place to help doctors and nurses. These are things like diversion programs and treatment centers that cater specifically to healthcare professionals. There are also twelve-step meetings that are designed for doctors.

The next step in helping doctors, nurses, or other healthcare workers struggling with addiction is as simple as helping anyone else. We, as men and women in recovery, offer them our hand. We offer them our experience, strength, and hope. We treat them as we’d treat any other individual looking for a way out of active addiction.

Aside from that, I’m not sure what else there is to do. Continuing to break the stigma surrounding substance abuse and recovery is certainly another good step. Making sure the hand of recovery is always available to anyone who needs it is the key, though. With this sort of unselfish, constructive action, well, anyone can get better, doctor or otherwise.

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An Alcoholic Breaks His Anonymity

Did He Break a Tradition?

breaking anonymity

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post published an essay by a recovering alcoholic. In this moving piece of writing, the author talks about his personal journey to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also touches on the lessons he’s learned through his eighteen years of sobriety.

Sounds awesome, right? Well it is! The essay’s an announcement of experience, strength, and hope. It’s a beacon of truth that we can all recover! Until, of course, you consider the fact that the author violated a cardinal tradition.

I’m talking about the eleventh tradition, which states “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions).

Let’s examine both angles and see if we can fully unpack what’s really going on in this essay.

Speaking of controversy, what’s up with ORT?

Experience, Strength & Hope

First things first, the author (who I’ve chosen not to name) wrote a beautiful meditation on what the road to recovery is like. He touches on the insidious and destructive nature of alcoholism in a way we can all relate to.

He writes passages like, “Every alcoholic is an unwitting player acting out his or her part not in a tragic comedy, but in a comic tragedy,” and “From the first drink to my last alcoholic binge, I was chasing a solution that never quite worked.”

A solution that never quite worked! That’s a wonderful way to describe what drugs and alcohol do for us addicts and alcoholics.

Finally, the author attends a meeting and finds some hope. The rest of the essay is a reflection on his eighteen plus years of sobriety. As I mentioned above, it serves as a beacon of hope for the still sick and suffering alcoholic. It’s a cut and dry message that not only is sobriety possible, but it’s within the grasp of everyone.

That’s a priceless message. It’s certainly what I try to convey in my articles here. To offer hope to those who have none, to try and help a lost soul, is the primary purpose of AA. It’s the first thing that recovering alcoholics think about in the morning and the last thought before their heads hit the pillow.

So, it could be argued that the author was really carrying a message of hope, sobriety, and serenity. It could also be argued that he violated one of the most important traditions. In fact, that very argument has been unfolding in a small portion of the recovery community.

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Personal Anonymity

Before I get into the controversy this essay’s stirred up, let’s look at why the eleventh tradition is around to begin with.

The eleventh tradition, and anonymity in AA, has little to nothing to do with individual alcoholics. Many people think it exists to save men and women from disclosing a potentially embarrassing part of their life to friends, family, and coworkers. This simply isn’t the case.

11th tradition

Rather, the eleventh tradition exists to protect AA itself. It’s a way for Alcoholics Anonymous to avoid being torn down in the media via an unreliable spokesperson. It’s a way to avoid any one member gaining influence, ego, and fame. It’s a way for a society of recovering individuals to protect the very house they found shelter in.

So, when someone breaks this tradition, well, members of AA are usually pretty upset. Understandably so! When someone breaks their personal anonymity in the media, they open AA to attack and misinformation.

Here we reach the center of this recent recovery controversy. Is the author of the Huffington Post essay doing his job as a member of AA or is he disregarding the policies that govern his fellowship? Why didn’t he write in general terms, saying things like “twelve-step fellowships” and “the rooms of recovery?” Why did he explicitly attach a name, face, and personality to Alcoholics Anonymous?

Ultimately, these questions don’t have one answer. It’d be nice if they did, but, as with most aspects of recovery, they don’t. The answer is different for each individual. Some will view the author as a hero, offering hope to those struggling with chemicals. Others will view him as a villain, someone who unwittingly jeopardized the very group he claims to love.

What do you think? Let us know on social media!

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What’s the Deadliest Drug Combination?

Xanax and Alcohol

Mixing Xanax and alcohol is one of the deadliest drug combinations around. Consider the stupefied glaze that’s common to individuals under the influence of Xanax. Now, add into the equation a few drinks and it’s plain to see something bad is brewing.

At the end of the day, I’m not a scientist or doctor. What I am is a recovering addict and alcoholic who’s had personal experience with the dangerous effects of Xanax and alcohol. I’d like to share my personal experience, as well as some interesting information I’ve learned about the numerous side effects of Xanax and alcohol.

Without further ado, dear readers, find my story below.

Why is Xanax called freeze dried alcohol?

xanax and alcohol

Xanax, Alcohol & Car Crashes

I was introduced to Xanax around the tender age of fifteen. A friend handed me a “bar,” or two milligram Xanax pill. I took it and felt my fear and anxiety melt away.

Thus began my foray into Xanax addiction. I soon moved onto opioids, but Xanax always held a special place in my heart. Two years later, I decided to “cut back.” I stopped doing opioids and figured that alcohol, Xanax, and weed were still fair game.

During this short-lived period, I was in no less than three car accidents. Each accident was sparked by mixing Xanax and alcohol. One particular crash involved four parked cars (which I sideswiped), one parked SUV (which I crashed into), and one minivan (which the SUV was pushed into). The police found me passed out over the steering wheel, with no idea what had happened.

Thankfully, I was okay physically. Emotionally and mentally, though, I was a wreck. Not long after, I ended up in treatment. The rest, as they say, is history.

Why did I mix Xanax and alcohol? Why, after seeing their harmful effects, did I continue to use them together?

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Mixing Xanax and Alcohol

The combination of Xanax and alcohol is more common than most people think. Teenagers looking for a quick and strong buzz, young adults who’re prescribed Xanax and drink with dinner, senior citizens who’re unaware of the dangers each chemical poses…the list goes on and on.

So, why do people mix Xanax and alcohol? Well, it depends on the person. As mentioned above, some people are simply unaware of the dangers inherent to mixing benzo’s and alcohol. While there’s information available that highlights the deadly effects of mixing Xanax and alcohol, that information isn’t as prevalent as you might think.

Other people are looking to alter the way they think and feel. That is, they’re looking to get high. It should come as no surprise that mixing a powerful tranquilizer pill and a powerful depressant beverage will produce a powerful euphoria. Of course, this euphoria doesn’t come without a price, but we’ll touch on that soon.

Still other people are prescribed Xanax and refuse to alter their habits because of it. In this situation, it’s a case of individuals knowing the potential effects and choosing to engage in risky behavior regardless.

So, what makes mixing Xanax and alcohol so deadly anyway?

Think someone has alcohol poisoning? Learn what to do!

Xanax and Alcohol Effects

xanax and alcohol effects

Mixing Xanax and alcohol produces some serious nasty side effects. The first reason for this is that they’re both central nervous system depressants. That means that both Xanax and alcohol slow how the body sends, receives, and processes information. It also means they slow how the body carries out its tasks, things like breathing, making the heart beat, etc.

So, the combination of these two chemicals leads to severe respiratory depression, an incredibly slowed heart rate, intense confusion, decreased reaction time, and an almost complete lack of motor skills.

All of the above would account for my numerous car crashes while under the influence of Xanax and alcohol.

Next, both substances work on the same neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain. These are the GABA receptors. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in our nervous system. So, mixing Xanax and alcohol actually potentiates each chemical. That is to say, mixing the two makes each individually stronger.

I’d say by now we have a pretty good grasp on Xanax and alcohol effects. So, what can we do to change this pattern of dangerous drug use?

Did science just cure alcoholism?

Changing Xanax and Alcohol Consumption

The answer to affecting real change, on a personal or societal level, boils down to two things: personal responsibility and increased outreach.

Personal responsibility first takes the form of individuals learning the dangers of mixing Xanax and alcohol. It then becomes about making better decisions. When dealing with addiction, rather than heavy use or abuse, making better decisions is tricky. After all, full-blown addiction removes choice from the equation.

This is where increased outreach comes into play. Drug abuse foundations, institutions, and treatment centers need to actively reach out and educate the public. Through this outreach, individuals who’re frequently mixing Xanax and alcohol can get the help they so desperately need.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015. We’ll be more than happy to answer anything that’s on your mind.

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