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Pressure Drop

Life on a pedestal is risky, especially for doctors who believe they’re impervious to addiction. In the gripping Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction (Hachette Books), Harvard-trained Peter Grinspoon ’88 confronts the prickly truth that, even while healing others, physicians can fall short in recognizing their own vulnerability. 

What began as a way for Grinspoon to manage academic pressures evolved into a mindset that embraced drug use as a coping strategy. The illness followed him as a husband, father, and primary care physician until a keen-eyed pharmacist alerted the law to the fact that Grinspoon was writing bad scripts. The walls of his secret life collapsed and threatened to devour his family and career. 

This unsparing, unforgettable autobiography of addiction, denial, and recovery sounds the alarm for clinicians. Inspiringly, Grinspoon describes how he found treatment, legal counsel, and the way back to his life and work, coming to terms with shame and uncertainty in order to heal. In sharing the truths of his story, warts and all, he shows us that transformation is possible, honesty key, and imperfection a constant companion—not an enemy.