This month, the popular drug addiction recovery news website, The Fix, highlighted the story of a physician who was addicted to prescription drugs and who wrote his own refills. The story makes clear that the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin addiction is far from over. And it may also indicate just how bad it’s gotten. Fortunately, the doctor described in the article got help, recovered, and wrote a book about his experiences. In his book, however, he emphasizes that he wasn’t the only doctor fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs.
America’s prescription drug epidemic has become so widespread across the country that it’s a critical topic of debate among our presidential candidates. In 2014 alone, prescription drugs and other opioids took the lives of 28,648 people. Furthermore, over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States, and most of those deaths are from opioids – which include both controlled prescription pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin. Because opioid addiction has become such a significant problem, Obama recently proposed $1.1 billion in funding toward treating those who suffer from addiction to heroin or prescription drugs.
The physician described in The Fix article became addicted to prescription drugs while in medical school. He continued to use these controlled substances and was well into his addiction by the time he opened his own practice. Finally, in 2005, he was arrested at his own medical practice and charged with three counts of felony for fraudulent use of controlled prescription medication. While in treatment, Dr. Peter Grinspoon realized he wasn’t the only doctor who fell into the grip of addiction to prescription drugs. His book, Free Refills, tells the story of his addiction to opioids and his career as a doctor.
Dr. Grinspoon explains that he never allowed his addiction to get in the way of work, and in his interview with The Fix, he states: “They say with physicians and addiction, that your career is the last thing that goes. You can still be in denial because you’re a successful physician.”
If you’re addicted to prescription pain medication, it’s necessary to get treatment. As Dr. Grinspoon also pointed out, “When I tried Vicodin in medical school, from that point on, part of my brain was committed to finding more opioids to take.” Depending upon the length and strength of an addiction, there’s little chance of being able to stop on your own. Furthermore, opioid addiction treatment that includes both a day treatment program and a sober living experience is ideal. In fact, medical experts agree that the inclusion of both recovery elements simultaneously coexisting in an individual’s treatment plan can greatly help in achieving long-term sobriety.
Typically, after detox, individuals often struggle with entering into the early stages of their sobriety. Furthermore, individuals who use detox as their only means of treatment tend to have extremely high relapse rates. However, studies have found that recovering opioid addicts who were provided with sober housing and treatment programs immediately after the medical detoxification process are 10 times more likely to remain drug-free.
Whether you’re a physician or not, if you’re struggling with an addiction to heroin or a prescription pain medication, seek help today. By delaying a call for professional help, you may be putting your life at risk.