Physician’s story of addiction a cautionary tale for health professionals

An Ontario physician’s story of addiction, criminal conviction and job loss serves as a warning to health professionals that they can lose their career if they don’t seek help early, says Elyse Sunshine.

“If a physician or any other regulated health professional who suffers from an addiction is found to be incapacitated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, they could have their “licence to practise” restricted or not be permitted to practise their profession at all,” she tells 

Sunshine comments on the issue after Toronto Life published a story about the emergency room doctor, who says he had “a perfect life: gorgeous wife, three kids and a beautiful waterfront house” and then “got hooked on fentanyl and lost it all.”

The magazine details, in the man’s own words, his downward spiral from successful physician to someone who lost his job, declared bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to a number of criminal charges. After the article was published, he was sentenced to two years in prison for trafficking and one year for forgery, to be served concurrently, reports CTV News.

“I’m embarrassed that my life has become a cautionary tale, but I’m thankful­ that I got caught. Had I not been arrested, I’m certain I’d be dead right now,” he says.

The man notes that after he serves his sentence, he will have to face the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario discipline committee. His medical licence is suspended and he expects the regulator will revoke it. However, he hopes to practise again in the area of addiction, says the magazine. 

“I became a doctor so that I could help people. I messed up my life, but I can still help others avoid the same fate,” he says. 

Sunshine commends the physician for being so honest about his experience with fentanyl and other drugs.

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