Health Care

The nurse sat at his desk with a syringe and his arm wrapped in a phone charger cord

Why it’s so hard to break an opioid addiction

More than a half-million people died from opioids between 2000 and 2015. Today, opioid deaths are considered an epidemic. To understand the struggle of a drug addiction, we take a closer look at what happens to the body.
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More than a half-million people died from opioids between 2000 and 2015. Today, opioid deaths are considered an epidemic. To understand the struggle of a drug addiction, we take a closer look at what happens to the body.

A former director of nursing at a St. Petersburg senior living facility admitted that all the drugs he used to satisfy his addiction were stolen from employers.

That’s according to the Florida Department of Health’s Emergency Restriction Order (ERO) on 43-year-old Marc Green’s registered nurse license.

Four Emergency Suspension Orders (ESO) came down on certified nursing assistants convicted on drug possession charges.

Green’s entry on the Department of Health website says he’s been an RN since 2011. On Nov. 8, he was the director of nursing in the skilled nursing part of Westmiister Suncoast, a senior citizens community.

That day, the ERO reads, “Mr. Green’s co-workers observed Mr. Green in his office with a blood-filled syringe on his desk and a phone charger wrapped around his right arm.

“Mr. Green’s co-workers noticed that his tone of voice sounded different and he appeared to be “out of it.” Green’s co-workers believed he was impaired.

Though the ERO says they asked him not to leave the facility, Green drove away from Westminister and into a head-on crash. He was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor DUI crash involving property damage or injury. Green posted $500 bond.

The arrest affidavit said Green “exhibited watery, glassy eyes, a dazed and blank expression on his face, slurred, mumbled and slow speech.”

It also stated that Green had two previous DUI arrests. Pinellas County court records say both came from incidents in November and October 2002. He also pleaded guilty to petit theft in 2006.

The ERO says Green confessed to theft grander than petit when he spoke to Dr. Hardeep Singh, an addiction specialist. The Intervention Project for Nurses, which monitors the progress and care of impaired nurses, requested Singh evaluate Green.

“During the evaluation, Mr. Green reported that over the last seven years he struggled with a narcotics addiction and diverted intravenous (IV) and oral Dilaudid from a previous employer,” the ERO said. “Mr. Green stated that all the drugs he use were diverted from his employers.”

Dilaudid is a pain medicine, as is oxycodone. Green told Singh between last September and November, he stole oxycodone and anxiety drug Ativan in its IV form “more than four times a week from Westminster.”

It was Ativan he was shooting up on Nov. 8 at Westminister, Green said. Drugs were the way he dealt with “severe levels of anxiety.”

After a hair test told of Green’s oxycodone and hydrocodone usage, Singh diagnosed Green with “severe opioid use disorder; mild sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder.”

When Green didn’t follow Singh’s recommendations — enter treatment on a partial hospitalization basis, enter a monitoring contract with IPN, continue individual therapy — IPN closed Green’s file on April 9. The ERO came down June 3.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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