A Doctor’s Story of Addiction

Summary and Analysis

A telling story of a medical doctor who, due to high stress and easy access to opioids, became addicted to opioids. After an encounter with law enforcement and loss of his license, he "clawed [his] way back into the land of the living." Thirteen drug-free years later, he was faced with a medical necessity to take opioids but with proper medication management was able to make it through without returning to addiction. 

Excerpted from Peter Grinspoon MD

“As a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), I am profoundly grateful for my 10 years in recovery from opiate addiction. As detailed in my memoir Free Refills, I fell into an all too common trap for physicians, succumbing to stress and ready access to medications, and became utterly and completely addicted to the painkillers Percocet and Vicodin. After an unspeakably stressful visit in my office by the State Police and the DEA, three felony charges, being fingerprinted, two years of probation, 90 days in rehab, and losing my medical license for three years, I finally clawed my way back into the land of the living. I was also able to return, humbled, to a life of caring for patients…

Finally, I am grateful beyond belief to have survived my opiate addiction, and to not have become one of those all too common overdose stories we all read about in the newspapers. I am also grateful to my excellent doctors at MGH for fixing my wounded knee, and for providing me adequate pain control. Fortunately, my recovery and my pain control do not seem to have been mutually exclusive.”