The Drs: Heroin Addict Becomes Amputee After Relapse + Recovery

The Doctors: Pain Pill Use To Heroin Addiction

Millions of Americans abuse prescription opioids which makes them 40 times more likely to turn to heroin. Matthew was diagnosed with cancer and developed an addiction to pain pills. His opioid addiction grew, eventually shattering his life, as well as his family’s. Two years ago, Matthew made what he calls the worst decision of his life. Tera, Matthew’s sister, recalls Matthew being the guy everyone wanted to be around. But in his 20’s he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was in a lot of pain.


He was prescribed Hydrocodone and had a friend introduce him to a doctor who would prescribe him Oxycontin. His abuse of pain pills then led to heroin use. For the next two and a half years, his main goal every day was to get high. Cathy, Matthew’s mom, came home to find him passed out on his bed, with a needle on his lap. At that point, she told Matthew he needed to move out, because she couldn’t stand to find her son dead.

The Drs: Heroin Addict Becomes Amputee After Relapse + Recovery

After overdosing on heroin, Matthew’s legs had to be amputated, yet he still found himself back on pain pills. Was there anything The Doctors could do to help? (sidewalk_flying / Flickr)


The Doctors: Relapse After Recovery From Heroin Addiction

Matthew’s problem only worsened, as Terry, his father, recalled. Terry admitted that it just became hard to be around Matthew. Matthew was arrested two years ago for possession and spent 90 days in jail. Upon being released, his family held an intervention for him. He agreed to seek help and began coming back around, doing things with the whole family again. But after four months of sobriety, he thought he could get away with it one last time, and ended up in the hospital. Matthew woke up at the hospital to a doctor telling him that because he was laying on the ground, circulation to his legs was cut off for more than 24 hours. Doctors had to choose between saving his life or his legs, so they amputated his legs.

The Doctors: Amputee After Heroin Use

Matthew, Tera, Cathy, and Terry bravely joined the show because Matthew wanted to share a message to those struggling with addiction. He encouraged anyone new to recovery to stick with it and not make the same decision he made. He never imagined losing his legs would be the consequence of using one more time. Since the amputation, Matthew has been dealing with phantom pains. Where his feet would have been, he gets throbbing, crushing pain, even though there’s no limb there. Shockingly, because of that pain, he was actually put back on opiates.

Dr Todd Hutton, a board certified psychiatrist, explained that Matthew being there was a sign that he wanted to get better. The California TMS center put together a comprehensive treatment program to help Matthew. They planned to use transcranial magnetic stimulation, TMS, to treat his depression and phantom pain. They would also help him detox off the opiates while giving him non-habit-forming medicines to help with the withdrawals and pain as well as psychotherapy to help him cope with all the changes in his life.

Matthew proclaimed that he was “absolutely” ready to say goodbye to is addiction, which brought his father to tears.


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