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From Hopkins To Homeless

After completing 4 years at the University of Northern Colorado for my Bachelor of Science, 1 year at Johns Hopkins University for my Masters in Health Science, and 2 ½ years into my Ph.D. in respiratory medicine at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, I thought I had complete control of my life. Specifically, my career in aerosol respiratory medicine. I had published my first paper in a respectable peer reviewed medical journal (Chest) when I was 27. Several months after that, I presented the paper at a medical conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. It was one of 9 trips I would take to Germany to consult with a medical company established in Starnberg, Germany.
By the time I was in my second year of my Ph.D. I had published/presented 54 medical papers, published 6 peer reviewed medical papers, was contributing author on one book, owned and operated my own consulting company in respiratory medicine, developed a patent for respiratory devices, and was progressing successfully in my Ph.D. I was 31 years old and I was proud of my accomplishments and my continuing success in respiratory medicine. But, that was all about to change. Addiction would enter my life and take away from me my possessions, my profession, my loved ones, and my sanity. My pathway to addiction started when I made an appointment to see Dr. Cary Suter, M.D. for migraine headaches. I put great trust in him due to the fact that he was the doctor and was responsible for taking care of the students enrolled in the medical school programs. In a timeframe of 8 months I was prescribed 6,647 controlled substance pills. I had pills to help me stay awake and study, pills for helping me sleep, pills for anxiety, and pills for pain. I knew about addiction but I thought I was too intelligent to become addicted. Anyway, these pills were provided to me by the school's doctor who said he had taken pills when he was in medical school to help him succeed. My ignorance would cause me to lose almost a decade of my life and would bring me close to death many times as a result of my severe drug addiction. For many years I was doctor shopping. I would acquire my drugs in many ways: the internet, hospital emergency rooms, forged prescriptions, clinics, private doctors, and in other countries. I would stay employed by various companies because of my experience in respiratory medicine. But, I would ultimately get fired when my drug addiction interfered with the quality of my work. Eventually, word of my addiction became known to my colleagues and the respiratory medicine industry. From that point on, I was not called upon to lecture, to consult, or in any way work in the respiratory medicine industry. I was, for all intents and purposes, “black-listed” from my profession.
Shunned from my profession, disenchanted from my family and friends, and homeless, I fell into a deep depression. It was at this time that I wrote a suicide note and attempted to commit suicide. Over the next 9 years I would attempt suicide 1 more time, have 35 toxic overdoses, and 45 seizures. All of which brought me close to death each time. Currently, my life is finally in a direction I can be proud of. I graduated from a year-long in-patient residential cognitive/behavioral rehabilitation facility. My sobriety restored my clarity of thought and determination. Two attributes which are essential for completing my autobiography, From Hopkins To Homeless: My True Story Of Prescription Drug Addiction. I believe I can inspire and educate others about addiction and recovery with my memoir.

My future is completely open with possibilities. I do know that I am very thrilled and inspired living life as a sober individual. And, for the first the first time in over 9 years I have a sense of self-confidence and respect for myself.

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