The story of my sobriety isn’t much different than yours, or for that matter, anyone else’s.
My troubles with wine and cocaine came over me slowly, almost imperceptibly, until on the morning of my 49th birthday, I woke up and realized I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. My life had become a horror show of negative consequences that I couldn’t escape from.
I had no idea how a glass of wine at dinner became two bottles every night. More on the weekends. Or how a line of coke, a bump at parties, became an addiction to shooting up cocaine so severe that I had tracks running up and down my arm.
I knew I was an addict. I mean, you take a drug and shove it in a vein, you’re an addict. But I didn’t realize I was also an alcoholic till much later when I discovered I’d been having blackouts. That scared me.
I knew I was dying but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t stop. Some days I wanted desperately to quit and some days I just didn’t’ care.
Confessions of an addicted physician
I was either using, or waiting to use. I hid my sickness and my tracks from everyone. I wore long sleeve shirts all summer and found excuses to avoid everyone I knew.
I was terrified that someone would discover my secret. Then one day, my nurses did, and they sent me home. I was sure the Medical Police would show up the next day, take away my medical license, and haul me off in handcuffs.
Instead, a man named Paul showed up and asked me if I had a problem. In a moment of clarity, I simply said yes. He said, do you want to take treatment for it. Again, I said yes, although I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Can I go home and get a suitcase of clothes,” I asked. “No,” he said, and we were off to detox.
Detox, where a prayer saved my life
In detox, my brain was still swimming in toxins. They said I was bat-shit crazy, but how did they know? All I wanted to do was to go home and get wasted.
A young man named Billy pulled me aside and said, “Dude, you don’t know how bad your disease is. You’ll give your old lady to the dope man for a bag of dope, and you’ll kill him for half a bag.” Even in my fog, I knew he was right.
They gave me a plane ticket to Atlanta, to a rehab center there for doctors. The night before I was to leave, I was torn. Part of me just wanted to go home and shoot dope. But part of me knew if I didn’t get on that plane, I would probably die, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
So, I knelt down beside my bed and folded my hands like when I was five years old, and simply said, “God help me.” The next morning, I got up and got on the airplane. Once we were in the sky, I remembered the prayer I had said, but in the light of day, I couldn’t believe it had worked for me.
Treatment for impaired physicians
When I got off the plane in Atlanta, I was at the absolute low point in my life. I had no idea what had happened to me or if I could ever get my old life back. But I knew I was about to lose everything I had ever worked for.
Just then a crazy chiropractor named Larry walked up to me. “I’m your ride to rehab,” he said, and he took me by the hand. He would become my friend and guide for the next few months as I tried to find my path to sobriety.
“Here’s the lesson for your first day in rehab,” he said, “There is a God, and it ain’t you.”
I was shocked. How did he know that I thought I was God?
“Oh,” he added, “don’t try to think too much, you’ll probably hurt yourself.”
The rest of the story, learning about the disease of addiction, about my character defects, and about stuff like a Higher Power and prayer, that comes later.igh
A question about recovery
A friend asked me this question. You’ve been sober over twenty years. How did you do it?
The answer is simple. I couldn’t. It was only by the grace of God and the fellowship of these rooms that I haven’t found it necessary to drug or drink since May 7th, 1997. And for that, I am wonderfully grateful.
A Happy Ending
What’s the problem?
The problem is addiction.
What’s the answer?
The answer is recovery.
And how shall we live?
We’ll live a life that’s happy, joyous, and free of fear.