A drug-addicted Black Country doctor used a patient's name to make out prescriptions for himself - but was caught because a pharmacist could not read his writing.
Mark McGeown had personal and financial problems and became hooked on opiate-based drugs but did not want to show "weakness" by seeking help from colleagues at his West Bromwich surgery.
The 47-year-old began self-medicating by taking drugs returned by patients, David Morris, defending, told Wolverhampton Crown Court.
He began using a patient's name to satisfy his addiction but ironically, the court heard, he was found out when he took a prescription form to a pharmacy and they made a check call because they could not read the doctor's writing.
McGeown, of Alexandra Court, Halesowen admitted 12 specimen charges of providing false information to obtain prescriptions. He was given a 12-month community order, told to carry out 120-hours unpaid work and pay £2,600 costs.
Judge Michael Challinor said he had destroyed his career but added: "No public good will come from me imprisoning you."
He said McGeown brought himself before the court because of his reluctance to seek help from colleagues and faced being struck off by the General Medical Council.
John Evans, prosecuting, said McGeown made out 86 prescriptions to himself in the patient's name and took them to a number of pharmacies. After his arrest, he said he had been doing it for almost three years and, because he was an extremely private person, found it hard to admit he had problems. Mr Morris said McGeown had to carry the burden of problems that were both emotional and financial and had succumbed to overwork.