Recovering Addict Shares The Horrid Things A Doctor Said When She Went To Have Her Nose Fixed

Medical discrimination against addicts is such a huge problem that the Justice Department has gotten involved.

Doctor and patient talking FatCamera / Canva Pro

A recovering addict on TikTok is calling out the awful experience she endured when trying to access healthcare to help with her recovery. Sadly, her experience is not at all uncommon — and is also a violation of federal law.

The former addict shared the horrid things a doctor said when she went for a consultation to fix her nose.

Experts in mental health, medicine, and addiction recovery all agree that one of the biggest barriers to recovery from those who struggle with substance use disorder is good old-fashioned stigma — the moral indignance all too many of us harbor against addicts.


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The experience of TikToker Garage Gremlin, aka @fumptruck on the app, is a perfect example of how this often plays out. 

"I had to go to a surgeon today for a consult," she said in a recent video, "because I destroyed my nose with drugs when I was in my 20s." After waiting an hour to be seen, the treatment she was subjected to was shocking.


The doctor insulted her multiple times and complained about being forced to treat addicts.

The experience left her in disbelief. From the very beginning, the doctor's disgust was obvious. She said that when the doctor walked in, he took one look at her chart, rolled his eyes, and said, "Great, another drug addict. I've seen three of you today."



She started to say that it was "nice" that he had experience dealing with her condition, but he immediately cut her off to say, "It's not nice, I feel like the garbage man," implying, of course, that his patients are the garbage in question.

"This guy just called me [expletive] garbage, literally to my face," she said, tearing up. "I didn't know what to do or how to react," so she just sat and listened as he complained about addict patients being "dumped" on him before lecturing her about the dangers of cocaine — with which she is obviously familiar. 


She ended up crying and leaving the appointment, which led to perhaps the most shocking part of all — the doctor called her at 9:00 that night to question why she was upset. She presumed it was because he saw the negative review she left him online.

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Medical discrimination against addicts is incredibly common and keeps many from seeking the medical attention they need. 

Her experience may be shocking, but like medical discrimination against people of color and patients who are overweight, medical discrimination against addicts is basically the norm. And like with other groups, it is also highly correlated with negative health outcomes.

One study of current and former drug users in New York City found a staggering 78% of study participants had experienced medical discrimination. Huge proportions also say they expect to experience it any time they go to a doctor.


And that stigma, in turn, leads to hesitance among current and recovered addicts when it comes to receiving even basic medical care for things like a sore throat or the flu — let alone the life-saving interventions often needed by addicts in recovery.

The result is more deaths. A Johns Hopkins study found that every incremental increase in stigma in a medical setting correlated to a 70% increase in the likelihood of overdose for patients struggling with addiction.


The problem is so pronounced, in fact, that the federal government has gotten involved. Because substance use disorder is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Justice Department attorneys have begun leveraging that law to fight the discrimination addicts face.



Whatever your moral judgments on drug and alcohol use may be, addiction is not simply a bad habit. Many will die if they even try to do so without medical interventions. And nobody in recovery should be judged on the basis of their past. 

These are pretty basic human decency concepts, and doctors of all people who take an oath to "first do no harm" shouldn't need to be reminded of them.


If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out 24/7 to SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.