Nfld. & Labrador

Former nurse writes about struggle with addiction

A former emergency room nurse who became a drug addict and a convicted criminal has written a book about his experiences.
Former ER nurse Ben Cox has written a book on his story of addiction, reports Robyn Miller 2:03

A former emergency room nurse who became a drug addict and a convicted criminal has written a book about his experiences to help others who might be headed down a similar path to addiction.

Ben Cox, originally from St. Anthony, self-published a book earlier this year called My Name is Ben and I am an Addict.

He printed 1,500 copies of his autobiography and sold them out of the back of a van on the west coast of Newfoundland this past summer.

He sold out in six weeks.

Cox said he wrote the book as a form of therapy and never thought it would get so much attention.

Troubles started at nursing job

Cox said he figured he always had an addictive personality, even when growing up in St. Anthony. But his troubles started during a four-year period when he was working as a nurse in the Northwest Territories. For the first two years of his nursing job, Cox said he stayed away from drugs.

But in the third year, Cox became curious about the medications he was giving patients.

"After giving it, giving drugs to so many people as a nurse, I knew it helped to make them feel better and I was curious to how it felt, so I tried it," said Cox.

Cox became addicted to injecting himself with morphine, Dilaudid, and Demerol, which he stole from the hospital where he worked.

"I was going out of my way to get the drugs, using different means, tearing up narcotics sheets at work and making new ones and stuff like that," recalled Cox. "It didn't matter as long as I could get it."

Despite his addiction, Cox said he was still able to act as if nothing was amiss.

"I was highly functional, I still worked. I ran the emergency room at the hospital. It was a dark period for me."  

Writing helps him cope

After two years of stealing, lying, and injecting, Cox was caught.

He pleaded guilty to charges of forgery and theft under $5,000.

He was sentenced to a year of house arrest, which he has been serving in St. John's.

Cox said putting his thoughts down on paper helped him cope with his emotions, but eventually he had enough material for the book.

Cox added that writing, along with getting back into the workforce, has helped him.

"I got two jobs now. Days and nights I work, so it's hard but it's good, too. I'm alive, I'm not in jail."