Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 16

p h i l a m e d s o c  .org

Feature continued
Kris McFadden, Recovering
Addict, 11 Years, President,
CEO, Pa, Adult and Teen
Challenge

kris's Story
Kris's doctor prescribed an opioid to help relieve the pain from the
football injury. The drug turned out to be a twofer - it alleviated not
only Kris's physical discomfort, but his emotional suffering as well.
He found that it took away the sting that came from the realization
that he would never play college ball.

"It was much cheaper than drugs. Still is. And it was much easier
to get your hands on it than pills. And it's so much stronger. It left
me in a state of constant addiction."
Kris became a prisoner of a heroin addiction for three years that
landed him in a real prison a few times. He was heading back to jail
when the judge gave him an out - Teen Challenge, instead of prison.
Teen Challenge is a Christian-based, long-term recovery program for
people with addictions.
"I chose the program just to get out of trouble. I had no interest
in getting well. I had no interest in not returning to the stuff I was
caught up in. I was fully planning to go back to that lifestyle."

mark's Story
Mark's first three and a half years of life could've been ripped out
of the pages of a Dickens novel. He's an all-too-common example of
what most people with addictions are saddled with - co-occurring
disorders - drug addictions complicated by such severe problems as
childhood trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder.

"That (football) was my everything. Once football was out of the
picture I filled the void with the wrong stuff. It didn't take me very
"I would say 80 percent of our clients are co-occurring," Maggie
long to realize I really liked them (painkillers). I was masking all the
emotional and physical pain that went into this experience - the reality Batt, clinical supervisor of Main Line Health's Mirmont Outpatient
that was setting in that things were going to be very different in my life." Center, said. "A majority of our patients have a co-occurring mental
health disorder, have some significant trauma in their background.
Kris believes his desire to use drugs as an emotional release had a They're not simply someone breaking a leg and getting hooked on
lot to do with his family situation. "My father was out of the picture oxycodone. Usually there's much more that's involved."
when I was seven years old. He left my sister and me at the end of my
Mark's mother and father
mother's driveway with our bicycles and never came back. I'm sure
my father abandoning me at a young age played a part in my future were drug addicts. He was born
addicted to crack. The Delaware
decision-making.
County Office of Children and
"Things were tough with a single mom and later a stepfather who Youth Services removed Mark
I never embraced. At the time of my injury, I had no educational or from his parents' home three
religious foundation, and filled the void with the abuse of prescription times in the first three years of
drugs."
his life. The last time he was
taken, he had bruises over much
Dr. Legere said in today's post-modern, post-religious age, people of his body. Officials believe his
are not finding meaning where previous generations found it. "We're five-year-old brother had often
in a tremendous shift right now, and it's contributing to the addiction hit Mark. When police arrived at
problem. People have found that with substances there is a quick the Darby house the night they
way to take away the pain, the anxiety. The two most popular drugs took Mark and his two siblings
today are anti-pain and anti-anxiety. I think that says a lot about the from their parents for good, they
culture we're living in."
found the older brother had stuck
himself with a hypodermic needle.
"We're too concerned about trying to relieve every little suffering
that we go through in our lives," Dr.
Mark's parents were often high. Neighbors called police regularly
because of outbursts coming from the house, and a lot of suspicious
Garbely said. "It may be that we are trying to tune out from people visiting. When Mark was 10 years old, his mother died of an
negative thoughts and feelings. It's easy to find something that will overdose. His father has been in and out of prison for the past 15 years.
change our mood."
After Mark was taken out of his parents' home, he spent the next
After Kris's doctor realized that his patient was becoming dependent two and a half years in six foster homes. He was adopted when he was
on painkillers, he stopped prescribing them, but the damage had been 5 ½ years old. The adoptive parents quickly discovered that they had a
done. Kris searched for other ways to feed his habit. "You can't buy very angry young boy on their hands. In the first social gathering after
these pills on the street in the same cheap way you can get them on his adoption - a birthday party for a neighbor's child - Mark blurted
your insurance plan," Kris said. "You're talking back then, about a out curses and smashed the birthday cake with his head.
dollar a milligram, and that just wasn't sustainable for me financially,
so I went to the next best option - heroin.
Mark exhausted a long list of counselors right up through high
school. He was diagnosed with opposition defiance disorder and
16 Philadelphia Medicine : Fall 2017



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