Former addict tells of struggle in book

By Noha El Maraghi

While addicted, he snorted as many as 45 prescription pills a day.

Now, UK pharmacist Jared Combs has received treatment, written a book and been appointed to serve on a state committee to help medical practitioners receive intervention, treatment and care, and handle disciplinary actions.

Combs, who works in the UK Medical Center inpatient pharmacy, wrote a book about his addiction, titled, “Incomprehensible Demoralization: An Addict Pharmacist’s Journey to Recovery.”

Combs, a Hazard native, began using drugs heavily after taking his first job out of UK College of Pharmacy, which he graduated from in 1996. In Hazard’s Appalachian Regional Healthcare Center, Combs said he began taking Lortab, a narcotic used as pain medication, due to a very stressful work environment.

“It made me calmer, happier, better. My whole life got simpler in one pill,” he said.

Within three months, Combs became physically dependent and was arrested in 1997 for taking drugs for personal use. He was sentenced to four weekends in jail and probation.

After being released, he moved to Pikeville where he got a new job as a pharmacist. While in Pikeville, Combs’ addiction progressed to snorting up to 45 pills a day. His co-workers tried to help him in the wrong ways, he said, sending him to the back of the pharmacy to nap for an hour.

On Oct. 1, 2000, Combs was again led out of the pharmacy in handcuffs for taking drugs for personal use. A judge ordered him to enroll in a 28-day treatment center.

“In court I said to the officer that arrested me, ‘Thank you,’ ” Combs said. “He didn’t understand why, but I said thank you. He was my knight in shining armor.”

Following his court-mandated treatment, Combs enrolled himself in the Shepherd’s House in Lexington, a transitional residential treatment facility, for eight months.

In July 2001, Kentucky gave Combs back his pharmaceutical license and he moved to Lexington with his family. He began working at the UK Medical Center pharmacy in 2003.

Combs said it has been a long journey to recover from addiction, and he is thankful for the events that forced him to confront his prescription drug abuse.

“I had enough pain and consequences,” he said. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

For more information about Jared Combs or to purchase his book, visit his Web site, (