Leaving CMS to cope with family’s struggle with substance use disorder

I am sad to tell you that today, Friday Dec 1, is my last day at CMS. My family has recently been impacted by the growing substance use disorder crisis and I have to focus on helping my family heal during this difficult time. While I am sad to leave, I am incredibly grateful for getting the chance to work with you all.

I recently learned that my uncle, who passed away 2 years ago for unclear reasons, actually passed away from a drug overdose. This news was unexpected, troubling, and has shaken my family. This stress has reopened emotional scabs requiring intensive time for coping and support for my family and me personally. Due to the personal stresses of this unexpected revelation and the resultant family support obligations, I can no longer contribute to work at CMS.

I’m sharing this with you because stigma around substance use disorder and mental illness were major contributors to my uncle’s death and decade long struggle. Talking about, rather than hiding from or being ashamed of these chronic diseases, is an important first step in eliminating that stigma.

If you or anyone you love are facing similar challenges, please contact your primary care provider to get help. A resource that I as a physician and as someone personally affected find really helpful is shatterproof.org.

To all of my colleagues, I apologize that this is an abrupt departure, but the facts surrounding my uncle’s death are still emerging and it’s important that I focus on my family at this time. I’m sorry to have to let go of the terrific projects and critical advocacy efforts that we’ve worked on together. But I can only handle one major stressor in my life, working in this administration or coping with the death of a loved one, and I choose to focus on my family at this time.

I’m not sure what my next steps will be professionally after my family and I have had time to cope. But if I can ever be helpful in addressing the epidemic of substance use disorder, please don’t hesitate to reach out @andreyostrovsky.

Thank you for the privilege of serving our country.