September 29, 2010
By the time I returned to work as a Police Officer, I was taking oxycontin prescribed by my doctor. I was taking oxycontin while on duty. I was physically and psychologically hooked. I had become another thing I never thought I would be...an addict.
By 2008, I was taking so many pills that I began going to different doctors to obtain more narcotic prescriptions. As my insurance refused to pay for doctor visits any longer due to my frequent "Doctor Shopping" trips, I had to find another way to get my pills that I felt I needed to maintain my mental block to forget.
I began studying the prescriptions I did get and started forging prescriptions for Oxycontin, Fetanyl and Dilaudid up to five times a week. I never tried any type of drug until that first prescription, justifying my addiction by telling myself "It's only pills" and I need them for my pain. Believe it or not, I felt I still had integrity as a police officer because I never stole any money or drugs while on duty and was actually a "straight laced" cop, ensuring I followed the law in the application of my duties to the citizens of Phoenix.
While I was being self-destructive, I didn't see that my emotional turmoil and addiction was also destroying those who loved me; my parents, my son and wife. The world was crumbling around me and all I cared about was determining how long this prescription would last me.
One day in August 2008, I was called to testify in court regarding a case I was involved in. When I came into court, I was shown a 12 page indictment and a court deputy placed me under arrest for Fraud, Prescription Drug Fraud, Forgery and obtaining Narcotics by Fraud, all felonies. I was taken to jail and book-a thing I had done so many times to others. After several months in jail and lengthy negotiations, I signed a Plea Agreement, stipulating a term in the AZ Dept. of Corrections.
Prior to my arrest, I was considered a "Model Officer" who received several awards and commendations. I had always wanted to be a Police Officer and became an officer at the age of 21. While an active Police Officer, I was also in the US Army Reserves when called to serve in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While serving in Iraq, with several other regular active police officers for their respective agencies, we served our country instead of just our communities.
After my injury, when cleared to return to the streets, I had to submit to physical checkups to determine that I could return to work. Though still on prescription pain meds, I was able to work in a "Light Duty" capacity until I could safely do my job without limitations that may have been cause in Iraq.
During this time, I went to physical therapy to help with pain and mobility, as well as speech therapy. After several weeks of this, I returned to full duty, assigned to a 3:30pm to 1:30pm shift.
As I returned to work, I found myself questioning my ability to do day to day activities. There were times when I had to clear my head to re-acquaint myself with the United States and emotionally separate myself with what had occurred in Iraq.
As I was conducting this daily self inventory, I had been in several arrest situations where I had to take a suspect into custody and it turned into a physical altercation. I'd received minor injuries at times and even a broken wrist once. It was just a reality of being a police officer. However, some of those incidents aggravated the injuries I already had suffered in Iraq.
My pain was manageable, but a constant problem for me. I kept the pain manageable with narcotic pain medication, but used caution when taking the pills so that they would not interfere with my job and safety.
As time progressed, my pain worsened to the point of near disability. My doctor was already prescribing me the maximum dosage safely allowed, plus an additional 180 mgs. 360 mgs of Oxycondone was not enough! I upped my own dosage at this point.
By this time, I believe that I was also using the pills to dull and numb myself from the pain and memories going on in my mind. It seemed like I was always reminded of things that went on in a place 10,000 miles away. I was preoccupied with horrors I saw and friends I lost. I was no longer the "happy-go-lucky" person, husband and father I once was. I was taking several oxycontin pills a day and was being told that my personality had changed. Of course, I disagreed with all of those people who told me things I didn't want to hear and I'd convinced myself that nobody understood me and could never understand the things I'd gone through.
By this time, I was taking three times my daily dosage and running out of pills after only 2 weeks. I was convinced that I needed the pills to function, and cope with my daily life.
One day at my doctor's office, I found myself at a moral crossroad. I found a prescription pad in the examination room. I was now a full fledged drug addict and only the shell of the man I used to be. I took the prescription pad and began writing myself prescriptions and filling them at a local pharmacy. I did so 4-5 times per week, knowing that doing it at this same place could put in the same place I'd locked up so many other lawbreakers. Jail. Knowing the consequences, I continued to commit forgeries to get my pills. I was deeply hooked and I needed more and more pills. I felt I needed them more than I needed to follow the law. I remained in this private hell that I created for several months, doing all I could to get my drugs.
Being arrested was my only way out of the chasm I called My Life of Addiction. I was not going to seek help voluntarily and may have died either directly indirectly from my addiction.