We are pleased to have Dr. Stephen Loyd back today to share the rest of his story of addiction.
Part II: There Is Hope
My addiction started to have consequences. I had three car wrecks (two of those in my own driveway), and I was losing my family. I couldn’t stop using the pain pills. I needed more and more pills to keep from being sick; I was no longer getting high no matter how many I took.
Eventually I needed 500 milligrams per day (the equivalent of 100 Lortab or Vicodin per day!). I had developed tolerance to the pain pills, and I never saw it coming.
I stole pain pills from my friends and my family. If I was in your home and you had pain pills in your medicine cabinet, I left with them. All the while, I continued to do well at work. My teaching and practice were recognized with multiple awards; however, I was carrying around a shameful secret. I was a drug addict, and I couldn’t let anyone find out.
I used pain pills in restrooms, in closets and in my truck. I was always fearful someone would find out, and I would lose everything. Little did I know, I was facing the biggest consequence of all: death. I had become a liar and a thief living a secret life. I was losing my family, and I almost lost hope.
I didn’t wind up dead. I was fortunate to receive help, and have now been drug-free in recovery for more than 12 years. I have a dream job as the medical director for Substance Abuse Services for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. I help others with their addiction to opioid pain pills.
Without help, I would likely have died a decade ago. I would have missed my kids’ growing up, and I wouldn’t have been there to walk my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day (which I did last June).
I am grateful for my addiction and my recovery. My drug use started with old pain pills that had been left lying around. My story is not unique, over 70 percent of first-time pain pill users get their start from pills obtained from their friends or family members, not from a drug dealer or “pill mill” doctor.
Programs like Count It! Lock It! Drop It! play a big role in preventing pain pill addiction, overdoses and death.
Dr. Stephen Loyd, a native of Johnson City, Tenn., is the medical director of Substance Abuse Services for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.