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A Recovering Pharmacist’s Story

I was a 60 year old pharmacy manager for a large supermarket chain. I had been a manager for this company for 23 years but in the last 18 months of my career as I had gotten older, coping in the pharmacy was getting harder by the day. My feet and legs ached and multi-tasking was becoming more difficult as was the grief and suffering from the loss of a parent for whom I had been the main caregiver for over 4 years. During this time of stress and grief, I had outpatient surgery for a broken tibia and was in pain while trying to work. With all this pressure, I began using hydrocodone that had been prescribed for me.

Uncertain as to how it would affect my ability to focus on work, I began with a low dosage. To my amazement, I found the pain went away, and I actually felt better able to cope with my responsibilities as the manager. Before too long, I was using 3 tablets daily. These hydrocodone tablets took away the pain, my mood improved and I was able to interact with co-workers and patients. Practicing under the influence disturbed me slightly, but I could rationalize that my concentration and job performance were enhanced.

When my prescription was used up, I managed to do okay for a while until the pain in my left leg began once again. At this time I made the decision to take a tablet from the pharmacy stock—after all who would miss a single hydrocodone tablet? Well, it did not stop with just one tablet. Besides, I still felt that I could stop whenever I wanted to. The switch from a legitimate prescription for my pain to stealing bottles of hydrocodone happened very easily. But, the feelings of shame and guilt associated with my stealing were easily hidden by the ability of the hydrocodone to suppress feelings, and I almost felt a sense of entitlement. I felt overworked, overstressed, and under compensated. I didn't know how to ask for help or who to reach out to. Also, seeking help would cause me to be found out. I just hoped it would all just go away.

I was found out, charged, and fired. I reached out for help to the Pharmacist Recovery Network. After listening to them and the Board of Pharmacy, I decided to attend a residential facility for the help I needed. As it turned out, this is exactly where I needed to be for what seemed like an eternity, actually 29 days. I was surrounded by others just like me—addicts and alcoholics, some of whom were in other medical professions as well. I immediately felt like I belonged, and for the first time was able to talk with others about my addiction. I learned about addiction and alcoholism and was introduced to the 12 Steps. I was willing to have an open mind and do whatever it took to restore my physical, mental and spiritual sobriety.

I have now been sober and clean for 2 years and many good things have happened to me while in recovery. I recently completed outpatient and recovery support programs and I am able to work again in my profession. I am an adamant supporter of the new directions the profession is headed, and am attempting to begin a consulting business with geriatric patients. I am an active supporter of AA and it's fellowship, steps and principles. I have more people that I call "friend" now than I could ever have imagined and from all walks of life. Physically, I am in a much healthier place than two short years ago—no hypertension, no diabetes, and no more sleep problems. Mentally, I have moved from a life of negativity to one of being open, willing, and honest. Yet, it is spiritually where the biggest change has taken place. I now have what I have been seeking for most of my life through other obsessions and drug use.

—A Recovering Pharmacist


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