Dr. David McCartney’s recovery journey began when he talked to a doctor in recovery on the phone after contacting the Sick Doctors Trust helpline. The doctor told David that he needed to receive treatment in a residential rehab. David went to the rehab and began his journey to recovery. In the film clip below, David talks about what happened to him after he left the rehab and provides insights into some of his reflections.
David experienced a sudden and profound change in the quality of his life, and he felt an immense gratitude for ‘having another shot of life’. At one stage, he couldn’t have cared if he had gone to sleep and not woken up. He then suddenly had his enthusiasm and spirit back—things fired him up and he was looking forward to so much.
At the same time, he felt he needed to atone, make amends, for his past behaviour. He also felt concerned that he had not gotten the help that really mattered in facilitating recovery during his ‘first time around’. He felt strongly that people needed to be aware of all the options that were available so they could make an informed choice.
When he went back to being a GP, and saw people with drug and alcohol problems, he was not able to refer them to a residential rehab—the pathways weren’t there for a non-doctor. David felt really uncomfortable about that fact.
He decided he needed to gain a wide range of experience if he was going to try and help people with substance use problems. He completed a Masters degree in Alcohol and Drug Studies, and then spent time working in a residential rehab, followed by a period working in community services primarily involving harm reduction interventions.
He wanted to see a situation where people were offered quality residential rehab as part of an integrated system of care joined up to other forms of treatment. And it should be free at the point of delivery. He started to write down the concept. At the time, he was surprised to find that that services were, in general, not publishing their outcomes.