The pharmacist’s 15 years of recovery are a key component in his chemical dependency course.
A former pharmacist in recovery found his calling through teaching the future pharmacists of Ohio about substance use disorder.
Chris Hart developed his chemical dependency course in 2005 after losing his license to work as a pharmacist. Using Hart’s experience as a pharmacist who abused painkillers, lost everything, and re-built his life in recovery, the class explores the impact of chemical dependency on healthcare professionals—as well as “concepts of addiction, individuals at risk, intervention, withdrawal, emotions, recovery networks, regulatory actions and returning to practice,” according to the course description provided by the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.
Hart’s 15 years of recovery is a key component of his course. He begins every class with “Hi, my name is Chris Hart, and I am a long-time recovering addict.” And students must attend a 12-step meeting.
Hart had been a pharmacist for 10 years before he became dependent on painkillers. Six years later, he was reported to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and lost his license. He attended a treatment facility, where he was taught a different perspective of addiction.
“The biggest thing I learned from treatment is that I had a disease,” he told The Lantern. “When I got caught the first time, I thought I was that stupid, weak-willed, immoral, terrible person who did such a bad thing. And then I realized this disease is a lot more complicated than what we think and by having a disease and treating my disease by going to meetings and talking to my sponsor, things they told me to do, I could get better.”
Hart eventually re-obtained his license after a period of probation and went back to work. However, six years in, he relapsed. This time, he lost his license permanently. Hart spent some time in jail and attempted suicide.
It was after this point that Hart decided he would try teaching. In 2005, working with a former professor at his alma mater Ohio Northern University, Hart developed his chemical dependency course.
“He just set to work immediately to develop a course because he knew he had to get the word out and warn everyone,” his wife Susie Hart said. “I was so proud of him.”
Hart teaches the course at six of Ohio’s seven pharmacy schools, including the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University.
“He is happier than ever. He is stronger than ever. He loves teaching,” said Mrs. Hart.
“It’s a disease,” said Chris Hart. “[What] it is not is a moral condition. Someone who is addicted to drugs is very sick. They’re a sick person who needs to get well. They are not a bad person that needs to get good.”