For nearly four decades, Dr. Jim Graham worked tirelessly in addiction medicine and was awarded the Pioneer of the Year Award in 2020 by Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Graham, in the form of Coastal Recovery Center, established one of the first intensive outpatient treatment centers in the country. Certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in the first class of physicians in 1986, he was also board-certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine along with his role as Medical Director of Coastal Recovery Center and 836 Ministries. Many families suffering from addictions in the Myrtle Beach area, and the state, were helped through this intensive outpatient treatment. As the Medical Director of South Carolina Recovering Professional Program (RPP), Dr. Graham was recognized by RPP for his years of excellence and expertise in addiction medicine. RPP is a referral and monitoring program designed for physicians, nurses, pharmacist, dentists, and other healthcare professionals in South Carolina that emphasized confidentiality and education while treating the professional with dignity throughout the process of recovery.
Shortly after graduating from college and medical school at Wake Forest University, he was trained as a flight surgeon and fighter pilot in the U.S Air Force where he flew 70 combat missions over Vietnam and Laos in an F-4 Phantom. Dr. Graham came to Myrtle Beach in 1968 when he was assigned to the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base as Chief of Aerospace Medicine and deputy hospital commander. After accomplishing this at age 28, Dr. Graham opened a family practice in 1971. He remarried in 1975 to Annette and was blessed with 46 years of marriage. He and Annette have 2 children, Rhett and Holt, and three children from Dr. Graham’s previous marriage…Clay, Jennifer, and Millie. Since his sobriety date 10/1/80 and until his death, his lifelong mission had been dedicated to healing, and since his own recovery, to healing addicts. In the early ‘90’s, Dr. Graham was recruited to be the medical director of a 300-bed addiction treatment center in Tucson, Arizona, where he was until 1995 when he came back to Myrtle beach. Upon his return, he helped establish South Strand Senior Health Center and in 2007, with the aim of meeting a community need for addiction treatment, Coastal Recovery Center was founded. Coastal Recovery Center is located at 1113 44th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.
It’s been said “if you want to know what the road ahead looks like, ask someone who’s traveled that road before”. In the case of Dr. Graham’s personal experience, it is rare for someone to be sought after because of their sufferings and pain they have endured. Dr. Graham recognized that God never wastes pain and uses it to shape someone in ways that many cannot understand. Always fond of the wisdom imparted from C.S. Lewis, Dr. Graham agreed with Lewis’s belief that God uses pain as a megaphone to capture our attention.
Myrtle Beach, and the Grand Strand, is different in many ways from the years of Dr Graham’s struggle with alcoholism but it is also similar in that the vulnerability and culture of a resort city still presents a lifestyle that many find difficult to navigate. Only in stepping back from the big picture could Dr Graham recognize his life was being shaped to fulfill Gods purpose in yielding his own selfish heart to the desires of the God who created him.
It is fair to say that about every family with significant tenure in Myrtle Beach has had a family member, friend or loved one impacted by the wisdom and counsel of Dr. Graham. His struggles with alcoholism created a unique perspective allowing him to relate to and identify with others as they sought freedom from a disease that cripples the mind and body.