CINCINNATI — Les Walker’s life changed forever the day he met Dr. George Griffin.
Griffin, a Green Township-based physician, was arrested Tuesday on 20 counts of illegally distributing controlled substances to his patients. His federal indictment accuses him of repeatedly and negligently prescribing oxycodone, morphine, alprazolam, carisoprodol, and gabapentin to at least seven patients between October 2014 and February 2019.
But Walker met him in February 2002, hoping then that Griffin would help him deal with ongoing back pain after a work-related injury. Speaking to WCPO, Walker said he became another one of Griffin’s victims.
“I think, ‘Well, this doctor is going to help me,’” he said. “‘He’s going to help me get rid of my pain. He’s doing to fix my back.’ Boy, was I wrong. I was dead wrong.”
Griffin’s treatment started with a low dose of pain pills, Walker said. Over the course of the next eight years, the numbers on the prescription pad ballooned: 360 OxyContin and 140 Percocet per month, per Walker’s account, plus handfuls of Neurontin, Celebrex and other drugs.
Walker said he began to worry about addiction about a year into his time with Griffin but struggled to stand up to him.
"When you go to a doctor, a doctor's supposed to be looking out for your best,” he said. “He's not looking out to hurt you. He knows what's going to fix you.”
So he continued to use, he said. When his wife questioned him, he reassured her Griffin was taking good care of him.
Walker said that in 2010, after years of drug use and one surgery failed to end his back pain, he questioned Griffin about his prescription. Griffin became upset, he said.
When Walker sought treatment elsewhere, doctors were stunned to see the amount of pain medication he was taking.
“Quite a few of them told me I should have been dead,” he said.
It took years for him to break his dependency for good, he said. He reduced his use over time and stopped using for good in 2015.
When Walker heard Griffin had been charged, he wanted to share his story and caution other vulnerable people against blindly accepting what their doctor prescribes.
"If you go to a doctor and he gives you pills. It's like they give you 30 pills, that's one a day,” he said. “You go back the next month and he gives you 60 pills, two a day. You go back the next month, he gives you 120. Now you're up to four a day. Once you get to that point, you're an addict. Don't let these doctors do it to you."
Griffin was one of 11 doctors charged in a large-scale drug bust by the Appalachian Region Prescription Opioid strikeforce.
Although Walker is not one of the patients involved in Griffin’s federal case, he said he would like to be in the courtroom during the trial.
“I’m going to be there in the courtroom clapping,” he said. “I want him to see my face.”