Full disclosure up front, my day job is in the healthcare field so I had a natural inclination to gravitate towards this book and I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of drug addiction on patients and families.
The advanced publicity for Free Refills – Doctor Confronts His Addiction, by Peter Grinspoon, M.D. is chock full of comments about the honest, brave, moving account of Dr. Grinspoon’s facing off with his addiction and the good humor that he applies to it in the recounting of this story. That and all of the talk of how Grinspoon’s story should serve as a reminder that “doctors are people too” and subject to all of the foibles and faults of “ordinary” people.
Sorry, but I took none of that away from my reading of Free Refills. The notes I scratched out as a worked through the book are more like; arrogant, smug, liar, snide, snarky, high and mighty, whinny, and finger pointing liberal asshole. This guy could be the one of the least sympathetic characters I have ever been confronted with.
I can only conclude that people are somehow confusing his condescension with humor. This guy is nothing more than a typical drug addict; capable of lying to and deception of, not only family, friends and colleagues, but sadly even himself. He carries all of the stereotypical God complex qualities of way too many physicians; which is especially sad when you consider the amount of anti-religious bigotry and proclamations of his atheism that he peppers the book with.
While Grinspoon decries the lack of fairness and the troubles with the system and laws and the negative impact they have had on his life, I still get the feeling that this guy has never really scraped rock bottom and realized the he is to blame for his problems. The medical profession is all too often complicit in letting dangerous doctors to slide by; here’s hoping this guy’s self-proclaimed sobriety remains intact and he doesn’t end up doing serious damage to a patient.