Grant Matheson was a pillar of the community, a respected family physician in Charlottetown, a loving husband, devoted father, trusted friend, and marathon runner who took care of his body. He came from a good family, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and worked hard to get into medicine.
But beneath the crisp white coat, Matheson’s life was unravelling.
His gritty, fast-paced memoir opens with a low point. While waiting at the airport on his way to receive treatment at a rehabilitation centre in Ontario, Matheson feels the overwhelming compulsion of narcotic addiction and its suffocating grip.
In a public restroom, he takes out the syringe that’s taped to his leg, searches for the pill crusher, lighter and test tube inside his duffel bag. He realizes he has no water to conclude the mixture, so desperate he uses the toilet water to help cook the drug before it’s inserted into his body for a final hit.
In “The Golden Boy: A Doctor’s Journey with Addiction,” the narrative, which weaves from first to third person, illustrates how broken relationships, the death of his only brother, guilt, work, family and the desire to please everyone caused the culture and chemicals to create both his sickness and recovery.
And it all started – this downward spiral – with a simple cough.
The reader is taken on a harrowing journey that reveals the respected physician over-prescribing painkillers to patients, so he could buy them back to feed his sickness. The addiction cost Matheson his career, relationships, and almost his life.
Character names have been changed to protect their identity, but overall the story is told in a brutally honest and heartfelt way. The road to recovery is long, and Matheson is going to have to take “one day at a time” to recover after years of abuse.
On his journey in rehabilitation he meets several characters who help him face his demons, feel remorse, and gradually begin to find forgiveness and acceptance. He documents each day of his life in rehab, which is used as part of the story.
The story highlights how substance abuse can affect the housewife, the loving parent, the newly graduated nurse, and even a family physician, arguing it can happen to anyone.
After years of being clean, Matheson hopes his story will break the stigma.
The Charlottetown author, Grant Matheson is a non-practising physician, a devoted father of three, and a drug addict in recovery. He has not taken opioids since 2005.
Matheson hopes his story will help those struggling with addiction and those who love someone battling the disease.