Patrick Reilly was a 36-year-old Midwestern pediatrician when he admitted himself to a Toronto hospital for treatment of...
A PRIVATE PRACTICE
by ‧RELEASE DATE: March 19, 1984
Patrick Reilly was a 36-year-old Midwestern pediatrician when he admitted himself to a Toronto hospital for treatment of drug addiction. These are his experiences over the next four weeks, as part of a small group that included alcoholics, drug abusers, and the ""cross-addicted."" For 14 years, Reilly himself had abused Valium, other so-called minor tranquilizers, and a changing mixture of antidepressants, sleeping pills, and pain killers--first as prescribed by other physicians and psychiatrists, later by self-prescription, stealing, or false prescriptions. He ascribes his addiction to anxiety: initially from the strain of living with an outrageously demanding, disturbed father, who pushed him into medical school--where the anxiety worsened. By the time he bowed to his therapist's advice and entered a hospital treatment program (after successfully hiding his addiction from the therapist for years), Reilly was impotent, subject to immobilizing panic attacks, and making life-threatening errors in his pediatric practice. Friends, family, and colleagues, says Reilly, were all too ready to ignore signs and signals that he was in trouble, and to make excuses for drug-induced blackouts. It also took almost the entire four weeks of his first session in the program (he was immediately ""recycled"" for another round) before he could drop his physician-arrogance, and admit to himself and others: ""I am Patrick Reilly. . . and I am a drug addict."" Reilly deftly draws readers into his story and the stories of others in his group (one long-term alcoholic finally entered treatment when he began sexually abusing his daughter). The most heartrending moment is when he finally tells his wife of a vasectomy done secretly five years before: ""I felt I'd never be a responsible adult. I was barely an adequate husband. No way could I have considered being a parent."" An affecting, disturbing account that drives home Reilly's message: no one is immune.