Deep down, I knew something was horribly wrong, but as they say, Denial is not just about rivers in EgyptI was at work and caring for patients at the primary care clinic. what else did they want? Others had alcohol at night, but I snorted oxycodone – what’s the difference? Which substances are legal is arbitrary, right? You do you, I do me, and we’ll all be fine.
If only it were that simple.
Months before the DEA and state police raided my office, I had secretly introduced myself to a prominent addiction expert at the hospital after I miscalculated and woke up from a power outage. At 80 mg, he really didn’t think he could survive the unexpected bonanza of a big bottle of OxyContin. If you’ve never been addicted, the first thing you think of is, “Don’t take drugs.” However, addiction is an obsession and will eventually be defeated if not dealt with. I knew doctors who tried to stick pictures of their little ones on each bottle of Percocet to encourage them not to take it, but to no avail. The appeal of the pill is too strong, even though the dose is known to be potentially lethal.
As I flushed out the Oxys I surrendered to him, a colleague of mine urgently warned me about my severe opioid addiction to seek formal medical attention immediately before it all implodes. He said I couldn’t get back to him or he would have to report me. I put his suggestions slightly higher on my mental list, along with other things I eventually get to, like going to the dentist and changing the oil in my car. It is important. These things can wait. Doctors heal themselves (when you get used to it).
As I tell medical students, your addiction is intention We will deal with it eventually. The only question is whether it’s on your terms (that you can frankly get the help you need) or on someone else’s, which is astronomically painful. Case in point: I was indicted for his three felonies, two years probation, 90 days of mandated rehabilitation, loss of medical license for over three years, participation in a surveillance regimen for five years, so much. now require a drug test. We calculated that 20 gallons of urine came out. not fun.
Why are doctors prone to addiction? Depression, divorce, sick children, aging parents, financial problems, we all have the same problems as everyone else and have to deal with the unique stresses and toxic culture of healthcare. .Burnout score is measured consistently 60-70% or moreand even before COVID-19, many doctors started fleeing the scene. Constantly harassing, with less pay and more work, we click at night instead of relaxing with electronic medical records and families.
When it comes to addiction, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any problem with stigma, access to treatment is difficult. Medical boards tend to focus on punishment and her CYA (“cover your a**”) approach. Who would voluntarily sign up for additional punishment, especially if you’re already having a hard time putting it together? We practice in a dangerously outdated culture that is viewed as so. Distressed doctors feel trapped and hopeless.
but help me teeth available, which can be guided by you, such as working with a private addiction psychiatrist unaffiliated with your hospital, or by the hands of the board and the criminal justice system. is highly recommended. beginning, you have to admit you have a problem and ask for helpThis is the hardest part because it is an ego dissonance with our own image of being healthy, independent and successful.
The type of help you need depends on what you are dependent on and the problems that are contributing to your addiction. The way Physician Health and the medical board treated me was as straightforward as a “clockwork orange” kind of “contingency response”. In my case, this is the component that worked—not the mandated, expensive, unscientific 90-day rehab I was sent to in the 1930s when AA was born.
Fifteen years after my recovery, I am grateful for my success. I know several doctors who died of lonely overdose deaths locked in bathrooms, and others living on the streets.
If you administer your own treatment, such as in a private clinic, you may have access to drugs such as buprenorphine, but due to stigma and superstition, medical boards and physicians’ health programs not Historically allowed. It still amazes me that practitioners can drink alcohol and use benzos, ambienes, gabapentin, muscle relaxants, etc., but medical boards and physicians’ health programs prohibit them. buprenorphine Because it is a “disturbance”. It is plainly unethical (and totally unsupported by science) for doctors to deny one category of treatment that has been consistently shown to save lives. doing.
Recovery from drugs and alcohol involves more than just abstinence. I said it was necessary but not enough. I don’t even know if that’s true.For example, there is no science to show that if you become obsessed with uppers as a teenager, you should abstain from a glass of wine at dinner for the rest of your life. discussion It’s another day.
Overcoming addiction requires a fearless look at what lies under the hood. Humility and compassion are required. For yourself above all. Many of us are people pleasers and avoid problems, but there is always the temptation to escape our present reality with drugs and alcohol unless we face our traumas, demons and challenges with courage and integrity. As, we need to make being a doctor more sustainable by going against hospitals, insurance companies and corporations and slowly turning us into cogs in someone else’s machine. We must retain the unifying force that makes the practice of medicine so special, and recapture the curiosity and enthusiasm that drove us into this profession in the first place.
Physicians I know who have had a stable and successful recovery are exemplary physicians. They listen, they care, they are humble, they are connected. They have the tools they need to deal with stress as doctors. Self-care, mindfulness, and the confidence to ask for help. Addiction is a disease of loneliness. As it progresses, your social connections are replaced by an emotional attachment to your drug of choice.It is only with the help of others that we can heal. Peer support is important. If a colleague is having a hard time, don’t judge it. This only leads to prejudices that hurt many of us. Rather, embrace them, encourage them with kindness, and guide them toward the care they need and deserve.
Peter Grinspoon, MD, is a primary care physician, cannabis expert, and certified health and wellness coach at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a national media figure, a popular contributor to Harvard Health Publications, and a TEDx speaker.his upcoming book See Through The Smoke: A Cannabis Specialist Uncovers The Truth About Marijuana It will be released on April 20, 2023. He is also the author of a landmark memoir. Free Refills: Doctors Confront Their Addiction.