56: Opiates & Medical Cannabis with Peter Grinspoon


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On this episode of The Addicted Mind podcast, we are joined by Peter Grinspoon, a primary care physician in the Boston area who is an advocate of medical cannabis.

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During medical school, Peter and a few of his classmates decided to try a sample of Vicodin to see if they could experience the euphoric side effects. While his friends tried it that once and never felt compelled to try it again, Peter immediately felt the need to find another high. This feeling was exacerbated by the stress of the medical profession and the easy accessibility of medications, and throughout 10 years, he battled an opioid addiction. Ultimately, this addiction led him to trouble with the law, a 90-day rehab program, and a few relapses, but 3.5 years later, Peter had progressed in his recovery enough to get his medical license back. He credits his successful recovery to the support he received from his family, friends, and Physician Health Program.

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Peter is an advocate of medical cannabis treatment as an alternative to help avoid and treat opioid addictions. Cannabis can effectively be used to treat chronic pain either in conjunction with or in the place of opioids. Baby Boomers are particularly open to trying this treatment and Peter anticipates that more people will be willing once the US government legitimizes its uses and changes the classification.

Contrary to what people may think, medical cannabis does not have to be smoked and does not have to give the user a high because different chemicals within the marijuana plant can be isolated to be used in treatment.

There is a hurtful stigma within the recovery community that insinuates that medically-assisted treatment is not adherence to the “zero tolerance” rule. Peter says that rehab programs that do not recognize the values of medically-assisted treatments are becoming irrelevant as a result of this stigma and he hopes that they will learn to adapt to the times.

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He also emphasizes the significance and importance to an addict of the love and support from family and friends. Even though they may have given up on themselves, it could mean all the difference for them to know that you will not give up on them.

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