John* has been a qualified pharmacist for 40 years. He began using codeine in 1972 and was dismissed from numerous jobs because of it. At the time, nothing was available pharmacists with addiction issues, other than private hospitals and psychiatric services in the NHS, so John ended up in a psychiatric ward.
We have been supporting John and his family on his journey to recovery since 1994, who has now been clean for eight years.
My first contact with Pharmacist Support was in 1994, when it was the Sick Pharmacists’ Scheme. I had had an epileptic fit at work and knew then that I was a sick person. Following a couple of stints in rehab, I finally gave up the codeine but started to drink. I was working as a locum and now I was drinking each morning and during work. I used to think that my work was not suffering, but in hindsight it must have been. In 2010 everything came to a head; someone smelt alcohol on me at work, and I was sent home. The case was referred to the Society, and a fitness to practice case was started against me. This was the spur that led me to seek treatment.
My wife contacted Pharmacist Support – I couldn’t do it. Asking for help is not something that comes easily to people in the grip of an addiction, and in my opinion it is the stigma of actually asking that is difficult to overcome. The charity arranged for me to go in for treatment at Clouds House. I was offered secondary treatment at Bayberry Clinic, but couldn’t afford it, as we had used up most of our funds. At this point Pharmacist Support stepped in and offered me a grant and interest free loan, payable back when I started work.
Pharmacist Support also helped my wife with handling our financial affairs as I had not worked for a time and money was dwindling. The support she got had an effect on me, because I knew she was being looked after. As addiction is a family disease, Pharmacist Support arranged for my wife to attend a family course run by Clouds. It is the care that the staff at Pharmacist Support show to pharmacists and their families that makes it easier for the affected pharmacist to continue in treatment, and not having to worry.
When a consultant doctor was brought into the Bayberry – drunk, I had a glimpse of how I must have been when treating my patients. From that moment on the desire to drink or to use was lifted from me. I felt better in that instant than I had felt for 40 years.
Alcohol no longer plays any part in my life it is something that is just “there”. My journey from fresh faced graduate to an older and wiser person has been a long and tortuous one, and without the help of Pharmacist Support both for me and my family, it would have been even more tortuous. They have been that silver thread running through my journey, until at last I have arrived at my destination. With their help, I have finally “turned that corner”.
If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating disorders or any other dependency and could use some help please contact our addiction support helpline on 0808 168 5132.
*We have used a pseudonym to protect John’s identity.