That comment is from a Tennessee physician who says he was one of those who was in danger until concerned friends contacted the Tennessee Medical Foundation on his behalf. In a letter to regular and potential supporters of the Physician’s Health Program this month, Dr. H. tells his story of addiction, recovery, and restoration, and says he and his fellow PHP graduates are “living proof” the program works and is worth supporting.
His story reads:
“I have practiced medicine for 30 years. Early in my career I developed a gradual addiction to opiates. People around me, especially my wife, began to see unexplained changes in my behavior, including isolation and tardiness, which are common in people with chemical dependency. My life was becoming unmanageable. A few concerned individuals notified the Tennessee Medical Foundation and in September 1996 I received a call from Dr. Gary Olbricht, who was TMF medical director at that time. Following a brief meeting with him, I was admitted to a program in Atlanta geared to professionals with chemical dependency.
During my time in treatment, I learned that addiction is a disease. I also learned I was not unique with regard to my addiction or the fears, self-centeredness, resentments, and other related issues. At the treatment center and at local meetings, I was introduced to a new, welcoming fellowship of people from all walks of life. Despite the different details, I was amazed to discover their stories were just like mine. My life and relationships were restored.
I have stayed active in 12-step recovery since that time. I enjoy the weekly Caduceus meetings in my city and I know at any time I have a community that supports me in my daily recovery. I am not alone in this journey.
The TMF has fostered the recovery network among healthcare professionals. It sponsors Caduceus support group meetings around the state for healthcare professionals; it conducts ongoing monitoring of meeting attendance, drug screens, therapy sessions, and workplace monitoring – all of this to create a safety net for the person early in recovery. This benefits us and our patients.
The TMF acts as an advocate for its participants. Medical Director Dr. Michael Baron has become a friend, occasional advisor, and a trusted mentor to me. The same was true of his predecessor, the late Dr. Roland Gray.
Today, I feel tremendous gratitude for the work and support of Mike Baron, Mike Todd, and rest of the TMF. I will stay active with it and continue to support it. It is a worthy organization that strives to restore and protect the health of Tennessee physicians.
The Physician’s Health Program needs your financial support. When medical professionals come to the TMF for help, they’re not on a winning streak – their lives and careers are storm-tossed and so many of them are in danger of drowning. The contributions you give allow the TMF to provide its life-restoring services to those most in need of a lifeline. It was true for me, and now I donate regularly to give others the same chance at recovery that I and my fellow PHP graduates were given. We are living proof the program works, and that it is worthy of your support.
I want to encourage you to seriously consider sustaining support for the Tennessee Medical Foundation. I ask you to join me in donating to ensure that the mission and work of the TMF to assist and restore physicians and other health professionals struggling with addiction, emotional and mental health, and other problems will continue.”
Many thanks to Dr. H. for sharing his personal story of hope in recovery.
To support the work of the TMF Physician’s Health Program, you can give online, call the TMF at 615-467-6411, or mail a contribution to the Tennessee Medical Foundation, 5141 Virginia Way, Suite 110, Brentwood, TN 37027.