Doctor gets candid about his opioid addiction

By Aine Cryts

Easy access to drugs, lack of sleep and the need to "shoulder everyone else's burdens" led Peter Grinspoon, M.D., a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, down a path of an addiction to opioids, according to a recent Boston Globe article. His book,"Free Refills," details the guilt and shame associated with his addiction.

Physicians are "supposed to be the strong ones; we shoulder everyone else's burdens; we don't really need to sleep--that culture totally sets you up for addiction," he told the newspaper. "That really makes it hard to ask for help. You feel so guilty and so full of shame. It's a real barrier to care.''

Humbled by his drug addiction and recovery, the experience has made him a better listener and a better doctor, he told the Globe. That's because of the tools he learned in recovery--namely, living in the moment and not worrying about what he can't control. He encourages physicians and others to end the stigma of opioid addiction.

Familiarity with the signs and symptoms of drug addiction can lead to better detection, as FiercePracticeManagment has reported. Changes in the way medical students and physicians are trained and equipping first responders to treat overdoses can also help combat this public health epidemic.

To learn more:
- read the article
- learn about Grinspoon's book