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Wife tells story of husband’s suicide, opioid addiction

pill mill.PNG
pill mill.PNG

Donna Brockel was at work when Mobile Police informed her that her husband Bruce Brockel had killed himself in the parking lot of his former pain management clinic: Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama.

“Dr. Couch is the one that started this road for him and Bruce wanted to make a statement that we need to stop polluting our society with opioids,” said his wife.

The clinic, on Airport Boulevard, is the same clinic is where convicted pill mill doctors John Couch and Xiulu Ruan used to provide care.

"My life changed. It's never going to be the same. And I blame greedy, evil, money hungry lobbyist who fight for the pharmaceutical companies," said Brockel.

She also blames her husband's doctors.

In 2004, Bruce Brockel was in a terrible car accident. He broke his lower back and neck.

But Donna says it wasn't until 2010, when Bruce started seeing Dr. Couch, that his problems with addiction began.

"Dr. Couch just kept upping his pain medication and upping and upping and gave him fentanyl," said Donna Brockel. "Bruce would say I don't like that don't want it and Couch got mad at him."

When the feds raided Couch's clinic, Bruce found a new doctor, Dr. Russan Tarabein in Daphne. But his problems continued.

Earlier this year Tarabein was also arrested on a slew of federal charges.

And the day Brockel killed himself, is the same day Tarabein filed his intent to plead guilty to health care fraud and unlawful distribution of controlled substances.

"When you no longer look at the patient and treat the patient, you just shove pills at them, that's when you become money hungry," said Brockel.

She hopes sharing her husband's story will spark change.

"When they get ready to raid a pain clinic they need to bring in a doctor with them that day," said Brockel.

And she wants other families to know the warning signs.

"If all of a sudden they're starting to plan things out, giving things away, telling you what they want done in the future, you need to seek help for them," she said.

Local 15 reached out to Dr. Tarabein's attorney for comment and never heard back.

According to federal documents, Tarabein's guilty plea hearing is set for August 31st.