Utah dentist on opioid addiction and how he got sober

Rod Gardner, DDS, discussed his opioid misuse and journey to sobriety on the "Project Recovery" podcast, as reported by local Utah radio station KSFI.

Dr. Gardner said he experienced high levels of social anxiety until he experimented with alcohol and prescription pills for the first time in high school.

"It felt like all of the noise just went away and I could just be me and in the moment," he explained. "I felt like this is how everybody else feels all the time so now I've found what I need to just feel like everybody else."

After having a panic attack a few years into dental school, a physician prescribed Xanax for Dr. Gardner, which the dentist began to abuse. After hurting his wrist, Dr. Gardner began to prescribe his own pain medication.

"I called the pharmacist and got myself some Lortab," the dentist said. "It wasn't very long [until] I was needing them to get up in the morning."

Not only was he illegally writing prescriptions, but his liver was also starting to fail due to the amount of medication he was taking. Dr. Gardner said the only way to get rid of the pain "was to take more pills."

Years into operating his own dental practice, Dr. Gardner was consuming up to 50 pills a day. He was ultimately charged with seven felonies for prescription fraud and served a 13-month prison sentence.

"Prayer and meditation is what saved me and continues to guide me today," he said.

Dr. Gardner was released from prison and overcame his addiction through the 12-step program. He has now been sober for 17 years and runs his own dental practice in Tremonton, Utah.

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