Life in Alcohol/Drug Recovery

I feel my situation is very unique so I am reaching out in all forums in order to get an idea of how to handle for personal statements, interviews, etc

Since I was a kid I wanted to be a physician. My dad was an ER doc and I would constantly beg my Mom to bring me to the hospital to see him. Up until my sophomore year of high school I would do everything I could to learn about what my Dad was doing. My parents have in no way forced me into medicine or any other path but my sophomore year I started to feel like I need to make my own identity and decided medicine wasn’t for me.

This is where my descent began into the dark world of alcohol and drug abuse. I began partying after my sophomore year at the age of 16 and went from a 4.0 student/athlete to graduating high school with a 2.1 GPA and a couple misdemeanors at the age of 18 of burglary and petty theft. I graduated 2010 and I luckily somehow got into Long Beach State and seeing this as my only escape out of my small hometown I took the chance to leave. Since my parents were helping to pay for college, rent, food, etc. freedom was in the hands of my immature 18 year old and self. I started the first semester strong with about a 3.7 GPA, but then I broke my foot (5th metatarsal Jones Fracture) and had to have surgery which is where I was introduced to pain pills. Up until that point I was only drinking and smoking marijuana, but after that first pill it was heaven. I continued this habit with mixtures of drugs and alcohol in order to mask my utterly deep loneliness and the fact that I felt so lost without purpose. I’d only beat myself up more because I felt like the world was at my fingertips, but I still couldn’t succeed or stop using/drinking. I was suffering because I was suffering, and I got even more depressed because I was depressed and couldn’t get out of it. Relationships, jobs, school, everything felt too much and I felt inadequate in every sense of the word.

The next couple years were laid with deep depression, high anxiety, suicidal tendencies, manipulative decisions, and near death experiences…and a part of me wish I would just die, but I never wanted my parents to deal with their child committing suicide so I just was physically present but I wasn’t living with purpose. Eventually my parents found out the extent of my drug and alcohol use and that I was stealing from them and others so they said either I was going to treatment or they never wanted to see me again. Luckily I chose treatment. I dropped out of school broken and defeated to go to rehab which is what I never expected for myself.

Fast forward to today: I’m now 26 years old, 3 years clean and sober, in school with a 3.5 GPA, scribing at the hospital, dating a woman I love, truly happy to be alive and pursuing something I love. My passion to become a physician is due to the impact the physicians and mental health professionals had on me. I saw physicians helped heal the mind which healed the body and vice versa. My suffering has provided me a gift in order to reach others, empathize with them, and help them heal both physically and mentally. I also believe that a lot of medicine doesn’t just come from the drugs we administer, but from the healing words and touch we can bring to patients.

My Question is: do I bring this up in a personal statement? Interviews? Obviously I’d frame it in a positive light, but so many people tell me no you don’t want to be seen as a risk, and some people get tears in their eyes hearing my story and they say I absolutely should say it. I just need some opinions about it.

I think this is such a great question. I too have suffered from feelings of despair for almost my entire life. I had cancer earlier this year and was introduced to oxy. I seriously considered continuing to take them after my operation without a prescription. I just couldn’t figure out how to keep it a secret from my husband since I’m sure it would have been an expensive habit. But taking oxy was the first time I ever felt happy. I finally understood addiction from a whole new perspective. But something happened to me after weaning of the pain meds. I developed a sense of joy for the first time in my life (32 yo). I’ve developed a confidence and am certain that medicine is my destiny. But, I am also worried about how my past struggles with mental illness should be addressed in interviews.

From a patient and layman perspective, I think your experience will help you to be a great doctor. Hopefully, someone with more experience can give us some good advice.

My Bestie is a Veterinarian has been for 25yrs…she is also an addict, clean for almost 6 years. She was caught shooting up at work while on duty, and had to complete a 2yr program set forth by the licensing board to maintain her license.

Keep working your recovery, and keep on top of the stresses that may cause you to relapse. You can do it.

Thank you for sharing your experience!

I have one friend, he is the addict, but when he realized that his problems came from alco, then he decided to end with it.

I and other friends support him strongly in his intent and that gives him forces and inspiration to continue.

Medical rehabilitation program also affects him significantly and it really works.