Press Room

Dr. Peter Grinspoon Discusses Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction

by rlavery

Desktop279-001Boston Public Library welcomed Dr. Peter Grinspoon and more than 70 people last night for an author talk and Q&A regarding the doctor’s past addiction to opiates. A Harvard-educated MD and nine years sober, Grinspoon currently practices as a primary care physician in Boston, is a staff member at Massachusetts General Hospital, and teaches medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The author and doctor takes the audience back to February 2005, when authorities came to his practice to arrest him for three felony counts for writing false prescriptions. He admits he was in denial and that made it difficult to get treatment when he was caught, but he did go to a 90-day rehabilitation program. According to Grinspoon, there is a high rate of addiction amongst physicians, as there is both a lot of stress in the field and access to medications. The good news for physician addicts is that there is a 75-80% success rate for recovery because the stakes are high and there are more resources to help; for example, physician help groups.

He also discussed the opiate epidemic in general –  it is highly stigmatized and there is no other addiction in which addicts get punished instead of helped. Fortunately, he says, attitudes are beginning to change. Addiction is a disease that needs to be treated with healing and compassion, and it does not need to be a death sentence as long as people are cared for as they should be. The earlier the problem is identified, the easier recovery will be.

The Central Library’s Author Talk Series continues in March on Thursday, March 17, at 12 p.m. with Irish Author Colm Tóibín, as he reads from his newest novel, Brooklyn.

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