Why Does This Doctor Talk about His Addiction? Because “Secrets Make You Sick”

[The following post by Dr. Peter Grinspoon has been shared with us by Harvard Health Publishing after originally appeared on their website in May of 2019.]

Going Public with Sobriety…

 

Alcoholism is hardly a rare disorder in the United States. According to recent studies, 12.7% of adult Americans currently suffer from alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism; according to other studies, 29% will meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their adult lives.

If you add drugs to the mix, addiction (substance use disorder, including alcoholism) is even more common: it is estimated that in 2015, 20.8 million Americans met criteria for a substance use disorder within the prior year.

Given how common this problem is, one might think addiction would be readily accepted by our society, and that all one would have to do in order to get support is to admit one’s problem and ask for help. Right? Continue reading “Why Does This Doctor Talk about His Addiction? Because “Secrets Make You Sick””

Dispelling Common Myths about Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy

By Sarah Bernstein, MD and Jessica Gray, MD
March 21, 2019

The opioid crisis and rise in overdose deaths in recent years has received a great deal of media attention. Though the media has helped to raise awareness, it has also contributed to stigmatization of individuals struggling with addiction. Pregnant and parenting women are among those who have been severely affected by the epidemic and perhaps most shamed by society for their use. Sadly, at a time when many women feel motivated to connect with the health care system and make healthy choices, women with addiction often avoid interacting with providers due to feelings of shame and mistrust. There are many misconceptions regarding the risks and benefits of medical treatment for women with substance use disorders as well as the treatment of neonatal withdrawal. We hope to dispel some of these myths and provide a better understanding of the evidence supporting the treatment of substance use disorders in the setting of pregnancy as well as neonatal withdrawal. Continue reading “Dispelling Common Myths about Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy”

HMS Online CME Courses Approved for MAT Waiver Training

by The HMS CME Online Team
November 2018

NP and PA MAT Waiver Training

Through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) can become waivered to prescribe buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) after completing 24 hours of specialized training.

We are pleased to announce that The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has approved two of Harvard Medical School’s CME Online Opioid Use Disorder Education Program courses as fulfilling the 16-hour portion of the NP/PA 24-hour required training for waiver eligibility. These courses are: Continue reading “HMS Online CME Courses Approved for MAT Waiver Training”

Making sense of opioid prescribing in the midst of the overdose crisis

By Sarah Wakeman, MD
September 18, 2018

In the face of a growing crisis of overdose deaths, predominantly driven by opioid-related fatalities, there has been a tremendous focus on decreasing the prescribing of opioid pain relievers. The reason for the drive to reduce prescribing is pretty simple; when we looked at the onset of the current crisis of opioid-related deaths, it was strongly correlated with rising rates of prescription opioids and treatment admissions for prescription opioid use disorder. As policy makers and clinicians looked at this correlation, a simplistic narrative emerged. If increased prescribing rates “caused” the overdose crisis, then reducing prescribing should curtail deaths. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” As prescribing rates have decreased over the past five years, we have seen opioid-related deaths increase significantly. Continue reading “Making sense of opioid prescribing in the midst of the overdose crisis”

Doctors and Patients—Treating Chronic Pain As a Team

By Peter Grinspoon, MD
April 5, 2018

[Part three of a three-part series.]

As a profession, we can best navigate this complex thicket by returning to a basic, simple principle: the patient comes first.

As an undergraduate philosophy major, I learned that a moral system was flawed if a situation could present itself where a person could do no right. When it comes to providing pain medications, and treating chronic pain patients, doctors can feel as if their moral universe is broken. We are assailed on all sides. Bureaucrats try to restrict our prescribing and intimidate or harass us into not prescribing opiates. Patients rage at us when we can’t or don’t prescribe these medications. The end result can be a rupture in the thing that most of us value above all else: the doctor-patient bond. Continue reading “Doctors and Patients—Treating Chronic Pain As a Team”

The Harried Doctor & Chronic Pain Patients

By Peter Grinspoon, MD
March 8, 2018

[Part two of a three-part series.]

Why do so many healthcare providers find it difficult to treat chronic pain patients? I have not seen colleagues roll their eyes or audibly groan upon hearing that a patient that is new to their panel has diabetes or cancer, so what is it about a pain patient on opiates that fills so many with dread? Continue reading “The Harried Doctor & Chronic Pain Patients”

National Recovery Month: Jack’s Story

“I used to follow the signs on the highway to find a hospital, and I would fake an injury.”

Every day, we hear distressing news about the impact of the opioid epidemic on our communities and on our loved ones, but this month we are focusing on something positive—recovery.

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) designates September as National Recovery Month, and we are encouraged to turn our attention toward stories of hope instead of despair.

Several courageous individuals recently shared their personal stories of opioid addiction and recovery with Harvard Medical School to inspire more healthcare providers to treat opioid use disorder patients. Jack’s story is the third of three inspirational patient videos we are sharing with you in recognition of National Recovery Month:

After 13 years in recovery, Jack Kelly is now the chief addiction policy advisor to the Boston City Council. and has a mobile app called iRecover which connects people with drug and alcohol use disorders to the resources they need for recovery help.


Jack’s story is part of HMS Global Academy’s Opioid Use Disorder Education Program—an accredited, free, online medical education program intended for nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, and other healthcare professionals collaborating to treat patients with substance use disorder. We encourage you to click on the link above to learn more about the program, and to share this valuable resource with other healthcare providers.

Together, we hope to bring healing and recovery to our communities.


[View Shannon’s Story. View Bugzy’s story.]

National Recovery Month: Bugzy’s Story

September 21, 2017

Once I started to change who I hang with, what activities I did, because of that new state of mind, I was making the right choices, and I moved forward.

Every day, we hear distressing news about the impact of the opioid epidemic on our communities and on our loved ones, but this month we are focusing on something positive—recovery.

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) designates September as National Recovery Month, and we are encouraged to turn our attention toward stories of hope instead of despair.

Several courageous individuals recently shared their personal stories of opioid addiction and recovery with Harvard Medical School to inspire more healthcare providers to treat opioid use disorder patients. Bugzy’s story is the second of three of these short inspirational patient videos we are sharing with you in recognition of National Recovery Month:

Jose Matine, nicknamed Bugzy, is the proud owner of the Canal St. Gym in Lawrence, Ma., a nonprofit boxing gym that has produced multiple champions.


Bugzy’s story is part of the HMS Global Academy’s Opioid Use Disorder Education Program—an accredited, free, online medical education program intended for nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, and other healthcare professionals collaborating to treat patients with substance use disorder. We encourage you to click on the link above to learn more, and to share this valuable resource with other healthcare providers.

Together, we hope to bring healing and recovery to our communities.


For further inspiration, view Shannon’s Story. Jack’s story will be published on Sept. 28th. Follow this blog to receive an email notification of the post.

National Recovery Month: Shannon’s Story

“There’s so many people who are going to be remembered for how they died because they overdosed, and I want to be remembered for how I lived.”

Every day, we hear distressing news about the impact of the opioid epidemic on our communities and on our loved ones, but this month we are focusing on something positive—recovery.

Each year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) designates September as National Recovery Month, and we are encouraged to turn our attention toward stories of hope instead of despair.

Several courageous individuals recently shared their personal stories of opioid addiction and recovery with Harvard Medical School to inspire more healthcare providers to become educated on how to better identify and treat opioid use disorder patients. The following video is the first of three short, moving patient stories we are sharing with you in recognition of National Recovery Month:

Shannon is now a certified recovery coach and community health educator currently serving as the community outreach coordinator for the Charlestown Coalition.


Shannon’s story is part of HMS Global Academy’s Opioid Use Disorder Education Program—an accredited, free, online medical education program intended for nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians, and other healthcare professionals collaborating to treat patients with opioid use disorder. We encourage you to click on the link above to learn more, and to share this valuable resource with other healthcare providers.

Together, we can bring healing and recovery to our communities.



Follow this blog to view Bugzy’s Story and Jack’s Story, which will be published in the coming weeks.

Supervised Injection Sites: A Boston Doctor Speaks Out

(photo: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. Ma.)

June 29, 2017

Dr. Sarah Wakeman speaks about the process that informed her opinion on supervised injection facilities:

Opening supervised injection sites to address the opioid crisis in America is a controversial subject. Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the medical director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Substance Use Disorder Initiative and Addiction Consult Team, has something to say about it.

As a staunch supporter of evidence-based treatment for patients with substance use disorders, you may hear her expert opinion by clicking on the brief video below…

Do you have an opinion to share as well, or questions for Dr. Wakeman? Use the comment section to start a conversation about supervised injection sites.

Read more posts by Dr. Sarah Wakeman:

Waiting for Addiction Treatment: A Deadly Proposition
Summary: Dr. Wakeman discusses the results of a randomized pilot study of interim buprenorphine dosing for individuals with opioid use disorder.


Harvard Medical School is offering free online accredited CE/CME courses in identifying and treating opioid use disorder for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers. Each course contains additional resources to assist health care providers in treating patients with opioid use disorder. Select a course below to learn more and enroll:

Understanding Addiction

Identification, Counseling, and Treatment of OUD

Collaborative Care Approaches for Management of OUD


Dr. Sarah Wakeman is medical director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-chair of the Mass General Opioid Task Force, and clinical lead for the Partners Healthcare Substance Use Disorder Initiative. Dr. Wakeman is also an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and course director for Understanding Addiction. Twitter

(photo credit:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MassGeneralHospital.jpg)

*OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OUR GUEST AUTHORS ARE VALUABLE TO US AT LEAN FORWARD, BUT DO NOT REPRESENT OFFICIAL POSITIONS OR STATEMENTS FROM HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.