Former doctor addicted to opioids makes miraculous come back and now lives to pay it forward

June 6, 2019

Join us for an opioid prayer summit – Tuesday June 18, 2019 at 7:30 P.M. to pray for the people affected by the opioid crisis – here in Canada and beyond – and listen to interviews with former opioid addicts like Lou Ortenzio. 

Doctor Lou Ortenzio was a family practitioner in Clarksburg, West Virginia – one of the worst places hit by the opioid crisis; and where, in 2017, doctors wrote a shocking 81.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people.

Dr. Ortenzio had a robust practice – seeing 40-50 patients a day and making more than $600K a year. He had a wife, kids, a grand home in the suburbs – and a bad opioid addiction.

To cope with the stress and anxiety of long hours and a heavy workload, hydrocodone, an opioid meant for cancer and end of life care – became his only relief. 

Ravaged by addiction he lost everything – his wife, his home, his relationship with his children, his medical license – and almost his life.

North America is in the grips of an opioid crisis so enormous that each day, 130 people in America die from overdose, and in Canada, with a fraction of the population, there have been more than more than 10,00 opioid-related deaths in the past three years.

But Lou Ortenzio met two people who would change his life yet again – a renewal of the miraculous kind.

He met his wife Donetta – who introduced the drug addict to Jesus.

“The second time she met me she said, I prayed for you in church, I knew you were having a hard time,” Ortenzio told Context. She was the first person I came clean to outside of my family.”

Donetta told Ortenzio about Jesus and healing. After 14 years of addiction, Ortenzio attributes the love of Donetta and Jesus to helping him wean off opioids – In just three days.

But on the road to getting clean, Ortenzio’s troubles were far from over.

While being hospitalized for pancreatitis, Ortenzio’s offices were raided by federal agents.

“I had a suspicion that some agencies were on to me.”

As with most drug addicts, Ortenzio did everything to get the hydrocodone he was addicted to – including prescribing the painkillers in his kids’ names. Ortenzio soon lost his medical license and pled guilty to healthcare fraud and fraudulent prescribing.

Barely past their “honeymoon phase”, Ortenzio and Donetta new life was about  to get far more challenging.

“It’s devastating to have everything fall apart. Losing our house to bankruptcy, cars repossessed, and yet she can still smile and hold me up through it all, she’s my spiritual leader.”

Ortenzio’s voice cracks as he talks about his wife, “Donetta stayed true to our marriage and supported me even as I went from $650K a year to $6.50 an hour.”

Now Lou and Donetta run, Celebrate Recovery – a 12-step program founded by Saddleback Church in California, with locations around the world. They run the Clarksburg location.

“Celebrate Recovery is the entrance point where people can be honest and ask for help. The steps are a discipleship process.”

And it’s badly needed in the Appalachian region where job uncertainty, and industry changes have led to a major drug problem – not only with opioid abuse, but also crystal meth and Fentanyl.

“If you look at this problem, all of its connections, purpose, and hope – it’s Jesus and the church that people should be given a chance to find connection purpose, hope.”

For more information on the OPIOID PRAYER SUMMIT – visit: canadacares.com

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