Dr. David McCartney underwent a clinical detox when he first stopped drinking, as he was drinking dependently and it would not have been safe for him to stop drinking without medical assistance. He describes this as one of the most unpleasant experiences of his life. The various pills he was prescribed did not alter David’s emotional suffering after he stopped drinking.
He later found that codeine from his medical bag abolished his craving. This ‘discovery’ took him down a very fast and rapid descent into opiate and other prescription drug addiction. In the clip below, David describes how he eventually found the road to recovery.
After seeing an advert in the British Medical Journal, David phoned the Sick Doctors Trust Helpline. He talked to a doctor in recovery who told his personal story. ‘His story connected with me in a way the tablets hadn’t.’ David had found hope. He also heard for the first time the idea of recovery as an identity, and as a journey.
The doctor told David he needed to receive treatment in a residential rehab. David found that being in a residential rehab was much harder than he had envisaged. For example, he had to talk about his feelings. However, he wasn’t connected to his feelings and was feeling too shameful to talk. He was disconnected from other people, as well as himself. The only thing that kept him going was this thing called hope.
During a mutual aid group for doctors meeting, he heard his ‘own story’ through the voice of another recovering doctor. This doctor’s story touched David in a profound way and it changed the way he thought about himself and helped him deal with his shame.
Four months after entering the residential rehab, at a time when he was experiencing profound changes, David was told that it was time to leave. He replied, ‘Are you sure?’