courtesy rene alkazoff
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Staci Voyda’s journal is a stark look into prescription narcotic addiction.
And her medical records show the ease with which she obtained narcotics from Dr. Kevin Buckwalter.
“Yesterday I went to see a doctor about my drug addiction,” Voyda wrote on Feb. 24, 2007, the day after her first visit to Buckwalter. “I got myself hooked on OC. But I saw that I had a problem and I went to get help. The doctor gave me two prescriptions and one that he gave me makes me depressed. When Jonathan came home last night we got into a fight because I did some things he told me not to.”
Buckwalter’s medical records from Voyda’s initial visit do not indicate her addiction to OxyContin, which many addicts crush into powder and snort. Her prescription records show that on that visit he prescribed her 120 doses of clonazepam, an anti-anxiety drug similar to Xanax, and 90 doses of methadone, a narcotic that can be used as a pain reliever or to reduce withdrawal symptoms for people addicted to other narcotics.
The Jonathan named in Voyda’s journal, her boyfriend, was reached by the Sun on his cell phone. He promised to call back but has not.
Some of Voyda’s family members and friends were addicts, and it’s clear in hindsight that she was also hooked on painkillers, her family members say. But for a long time they didn’t know she was addicted. They had seen her as the strong one, helping others to fight their addictions.
But her journal shows otherwise.
• “I hope (Jonathan) gets home soon. I need him to help take my mind off of drugs. I keep thinking if I do one line it won’t matter.”
• “I’m still clean, no OC since Friday morning and today is Sunday. That’s very good for me ... When (Jonathan) messes with me or ignores me it makes me want to do a line so bad. Because before I was high so it was so easy to deal with. Now I’m not high and it’s hard to deal with him ignoring me.”
• Since Friday and I have been clean. I’m proud of myself but I’m ashamed. I wish I never would of done this to myself. I want to do a line but my body feels good but I just keep thinking about it. What do I do to keep my mind off of it.”
Pharmacy records from March 2007 show that on Voyda’s second visit to Buckwalter, she was prescribed 240 pills of a generic form of Xanax, twice as many as the month before, and 150 methadone tablets. Under “Chief Complaint,” Buckwalter’s records from the visit say: “4 meds; wants Xanax.”
Voyda’s journal entries become darker and more sporadic until April, when they end. At that same time, Voyda — known in high school as “Skittles” for handing out the candies to cheer people — was growing more distant from family and friends. In a note to an ex-boyfriend, she wrote: “I’m dead inside ... I have nowhere to go. I just want to crawl in a dark hole.”
Records show that Buckwalter continued Voyda on a steady regimen of generic Xanax and methadone, but at a party on June 8, 2007, Voyda overdosed on the narcotic, hospital records show. Urine tests showed she also was abusing alcohol and Xanax.
Buckwalter’s records do not mention the overdose, but pharmacy records show that on her next visit, June 21, 2007, the doctor did not prescribe Voyda methadone. Instead, Buckwalter prescribed 100 pills of hydrocodone, a potent narcotic, even though experts said she exhibited obvious drug-seeking behavior.
The hydrocodone and generic Xanax prescriptions continued month by month for a year until July 29, when Buckwalter prescribed Voyda 70 oxycodone pills, the primary ingredient in her main obsession, OxyContin. Six days later she filled a Buckwalter prescription for another 120 oxycodone tablets, and five days later she filled still a Buckwalter prescription for 120 more oxycodone pills.
That’s 310 oxycodone pills from Buckwalter in 11 days.
About two weeks later, on Aug. 26, Voyda and Jonathan got into a heated argument. She grabbed a handgun he kept at the house, put it to her head and pulled the trigger.
A collage of photos from her memorial service shows Voyda cheek to cheek with one friend after another. Voyda’s family said things steadily got worse for Voyda after she started seeing Buckwalter.
“She never would have done it without the drugs,” Voyda’s uncle, Phil Alkazoff, said of the suicide. “The drugs totally changed her personality.”
The four prescription narcotics experts who reviewed Voyda’s medical records for the Sun described Buckwalter’s treatment of the patient as grossly negligent.
Dr. David Kloth, a Connecticut specialist and a past president of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, said Buckwalter’s records showed no medical necessity for the drugs he prescribed to Voyda, who was clearly seeking drugs. One of her primary complaints was “vaginal pain,” the records show, which would not justify the types of narcotics Buckwalter was prescribing, Kloth said.
“This case is disgusting,” Kloth said of Buckwalter’s treatment of Voyda. “This doctor has to be stopped.”