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Aug
11
2015

Addiction medicine

Addiction medicine is becoming a more important part of my medical practice.

I would not say that I am passionate about Addiction medicine. But I
will say that I am compassionate about Addiction medicine.

The first patient that I ever treated with an addiction was my own
mother when I was just a 22 year old sophomore at the UofA. At that
time I did not know what I would do for a career.

My mother was a very loving, intelligent, vibrant, hard working and
charming woman. She was addicted to pain pills and sleeping pills. She hid her
addiction very well. For most of my life she functioned at a very high
level and her addiction revealed itself by subtle manifestations of disfunctionality
and our family life seemed quite normal for most of my childhood.

By the time I was a young adult, however, her addiction was out of
controle and the consequences of her prescription drug abuse became
more appearant until it all finally came crashing down over several
long years of losses, defeats and failures. She ultimately
found herself completely destitute and arrived at the door of my
sister and I as we were going to college. She was in complete
withdrawl and quite helpless.

I did not know what to do. We had no money. She had no insurance and I
had no idea how to help her. I drove to Tucson General Hospital and
was directed to the drug treatment center next to the Hospital.

I explained my situation and asked if I could just ask a few questions
of the doctor there. I will never forget the kindness shown to me by Dr
O’Reilly. I was a total stranger to him with a story about my mom who
was sick in withdrawl and staying in my apartment with my sister and I.

He listened to me and he believed me. He wrote a prescription for percocet with a detailed taper schedule for my mother and explained to me how I should detox her from the pain pills that she was addicted to. It was a hard couple weeks but it all worked out for the best.

Today my mother lives in an assisted living center with severe
dementia that  resulted from abusing  prescription drugs since her
teenage years.

I suppose I think of my own mother as patients young and old come to
me with their own stories of chemical addictions that have reaked
havoc in their own lives to one extent or another. I understand that
wonderful, talented, kind and intelligent people become addicted to
drugs and live with all kinds of different burdens of what things might have
been like if they had only never become addicted. For everyone there
is the hope that sobriety can at least fix the future if it can do
nothing for the past.

And so I invite patients to come and promise to listen and help as
best I can, much the same way a kind doctor did for my family so many
years ago.

Shawn Platt DO