I was a practicing Emergency Medicine Physician who had been blessed with just about every gift a person could desire. I had gone to Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. Although diverted from my original desire to become a General Surgeon when I severely cut my dominant hand in an unusual accident, I had settled into running emergency room practices across Southern California. I also began to treat rock ’n roll stars after I developed a friendship with the owner of the famous Roxy and Whiskey on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. I was living large.
Intermittent alcohol use was becoming more frequent. A past operative complication gave me a taste for Vicodin which was a ticket straight to hell. In what was a blur, and seemed to happen in a flash to me, I found the California Medical Board at the door of my beautiful La Jolla home. For several years I had been escalating substance use. When they found me, I immediately tried to run and hide. I had committed crimes for which I had to answer, and I knew it was bad. I wasn’t sure I could recover.
I ate my last several hundred Vicodin and then took as much alcohol as I could imbibe. Quickly, all the material goods I had were taken away. In my addiction, I had been spending twice as much as I had made. After 18 months of struggle, I finally stopped trying to control my disease.
I began to heal the night I surrendered. After 5 years I was able to regain my medical license.
I have shared my story over the last seven years with hundreds of young physicians and found great joy in discussing recovery with them. Encouraged by them, my family and with the help of a wonderful storyteller, my book was born.

Buy the Book! -- From Harvard to Hell & Back

This post was written by Dr. Skip Sviokla, author of FROM HARVARD TO HELL AND BACK


Skip to content