The Comeback Kid
Growing Up Untouchable: A Recovering Physician Addict Describes His Humble Beginnings
My name is Dr. Robert Campbell and I am a Physiatrist currently leading the largest pain care practice in Wyoming. In the coming months, I hope to share my struggles that led me down the dark road of addiction to both opioids and alcohol. I will also share my journey to recovery and the important life lessons I have learned along the way. I am excited to open up about my life, the decisions I made, the consequences I suffered, and the storm brewing inside my head during my darkest moments in the hopes of shedding some light on this sensitive and prevalent issue. But first, let’s start with my upbringing and the early influences that led me down the path of medicine and shaped my ideas of who I was.
Family Life In A Small Town
My parents and extended family are from a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was born outside of Philadelphia and around the age of one or two, moved to a small, rural town in north central PA called Coudersport. “Coudy” was an amazing place to be raised and in my eyes, I felt that we were always the “All American” family. I grew up with two younger sisters and my loving parents who have been married for 40 years. My mother was a schoolteacher and my father is a practicing Audiologist. We had a nice house with a picket fence and a dog. I spent my summers as a young kid at the swimming pool with all my friends, played baseball in the evenings with our local league, and spent time with my family. I did not really have a care in the world, life was pretty great.
The Road To A Physician
My strongest influence that drove me into medicine was my father. I was always touched by the way our community loved him, not only his patients, but family members of patients, it was deeply profound. I wanted to BE that person. The guy that was loved and liked by everyone but also had garnered respect. The guy that was invited to everything, that everyone wanted to be around. Not to mention being a doctor is an honorable profession and the money is good. So why not, right? It was not until I made it into medical school, graduated, and then started residency that I realized I had a much stronger, unconscious pull towards this field for all the right reasons. More about that later.
From Med School To Medical Director
I graduated from high school in 1999, and went on to play varsity baseball and major in Biology at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. I attended medical school at Ross University, which was a year-round, slightly expedited program. I graduated medical school at the age of 27 and was accepted into the Internal Medicine Internship at Allegheny Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center thereafter. In 2012, I moved myself and my girlfriend at the time to the small mountain town of Lander, Wyoming to accept a position as the Medical Director of the inpatient rehabilitation floor at the local hospital. I also started my own private outpatient practice simultaneously.
The Fall From Grace
The culmination of how I was raised, my own infallible ego, personal relationship struggles, and the addition of a new baby proved to be more than I could handle. These factors, compounded with the stressors of the “good old boys club,” office managers and physician providers “dumping” their unwanted, uncared-for chronic pain management patients into my lap culminated into the perfect storm that led me down the path of addiction and a hard fall from grace. In my wildest dreams, coming from the perfect family this was not even on my radar screen as something that would ever or could ever happen to me. I was untouchable.
Join me in the next issue to learn more about my journey.