Columbus Surgeon and Father Writes Novel About Drug Addiction and His Family’s Battle

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 9:23 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:47 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Drug and alcohol-related deaths in the last 20 years have killed more American citizens than died in the first two world wars, Vietnam, Korea and War in Afghanistan combined. It hits close to home for a Columbus, GA surgeon. He has written a new novel based on the trauma their family went through when their son struggled with addiction.

“Opiates, as soon as it hit my system, something clicked,” former drug addict Nick McGrory said.

Nick McGrory was a teen who played sports, had shoulder surgery in Columbus. He was prescribed hydrocodone. Stronger opioids and heroin followed. One night, his friends carried Nick back home. The almost overdose was frightening for his parents.

“Turns out, he’d been on 3-4 different substances all at one time,” father Dr. Jay McGrory said. “The addiction part, when that came into play, it was like a wrecking ball for our family.”

Dr. Jay McGrory, an orthopedic surgeon at Hughston Clinic, never thought he’d have to confront addiction.

Fast forward years later, he just released a fiction novel “The Gardens of Winter,” about how a family grapples with it, based on their family’s journey. Writing the book has been part of the healing.

“It (writing the novel) was an intensely personal experience, but it’s also a prayer really and my hope that other familis that are struggling with addiction, as I did, will find some glimmer of hope in the story,” surgeon and author Dr. McGrory said.

“I ended up getting sober at (age) 22. A huge reason for that is I had tried everything already,” Nick McGrory said.

He hopes his dad’s novel and their story helps break down the stigma of addiction...which Dr. McGrory now knows has a genetic and disease component, not just a bad lifestyle choice like he thought when his son was high.

“If it’s just a bad decision, then the natural parental reaction to a bad decision is anger and frustration,” Dr. McGrory said. “Looking back now, I have a fuller understanding of the nature of addiction.”

Addict-turned recovery center leader Nick McGrory added, “Family, generally speaking, there’s too much bias involved for family to help other family, it takes other people outside of it.”

After being in and out of rehab for several years, Nick has been sober since the end of 2016. He started and is CEO of a sober living facility in Asheville North Carolina. At Otter House Recovery, he helps other young men struggling with the monster of addiction.

He told us, “It’s a million times easier when you’re surrounded by other people, all doing the same thing you’re doing.”

Along with writing a novel to raise awareness, Dr. McGrory also wants physicians to be more careful when managing pain medications.

“I don’t prescribe opioid narcotics for surgical patients other than surgeries that are known to have really bad pain,” Dr. McGrory added.

You can hear more about their pain and redemption story at https://www.wtvm.com/page/podcast/. This father and son are both guests on our latest episode of “Run The Race.”

Nick, who grew up in the fountain city, hopes to open a sober living recovery place in Columbus next year.