This story is featured in the May/June issue of Seattle magazine. Subscribe here to access the print edition.
Name: Paul Grekin, M.D.
Practice and Hospital Affiliation: Addiction psychiatry, Evergreen Treatment Services
Why did you pick your specialty? Helping people with substance use disorder is as rewarding to me today as it was when I started 30 years ago. It is a privilege to work with people as they embrace the arduous struggle to regain control of their lives, and the interaction between the brain, childhood development, trauma, social factors, politics and psychoactive compounds never fails to fascinate me.
What do you wish people knew about your specialty? Substance use disorder is a deadly medical condition that is highly correlated with childhood trauma and other challenges to healthy development. Like with any medical treatment, my first imperative is to save lives. Treating opioid use disorder with methadone or buprenorphine is one of the most effective medical treatments we have to reduce the risk of premature death. Providing this treatment by nonjudgmental staff in tandem with compassionate counseling in a supportive community gives patients a chance to learn healthier ways of managing their lives.
How will the pandemic change your practice? Federal law requires most of our patients to go to the clinic six days a week. This puts a burden on people who might be working and caring for themselves and their families, and during a pandemic, this makes physical distancing difficult. We requested and received permission to reduce daily, in-person attendance for many patients. While we’re looking forward to being able to offer services in person, we hope to retain some of the flexibility that improves access to care once the pandemic is over.
This feature is a part of our 21st annual list of the region's best physicians. View the list here.