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Jamie Smolen, MD, a former orthopedic surgeon and sports-medicine physician, became a psychiatrist to help others recover their mental health as he had overcome major depression. His proudest and most challenging achievement is his sobriety from alcoholism for more than twenty years; he has been sober since February 26, 1991. He now specializes in the treatment of addictions as his most important purpose and mission in life.
Born and raised in Ludlow, MA, the youngest of three children, Jamie enjoyed a traditional 1950s family life. His interest in choosing orthopedic surgery as his first career stemmed from the multiple sports-related injuries he sustained in high school. Jamie entered the pre-medical program offered at St. Anselm College, in Manchester, NH, graduating in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
He attended Georgetown University Medical School, was married, and graduated in 1975. He completed a surgical internship at the University of Vermont in 1976 and moved to Worcester where he trained in orthopedic surgery at the University of Massachusetts. By then, Jamie’s alcoholism had become pervasive and adversely affected his marriage. A highly skilled surgeon who was still operating with precision and dexterity, he was in a state of denial that all alcoholics encounter, and he did not seek help.
In 1980 he set up his private practice of orthopedics in Manchester, New Hampshire, while alcoholism continued to take an extensive toll on his marriage and professional career. Because of alcohol, he regrettably gave up his one true passion—orthopedic surgery—and adjusted his career to include sports medicine. Finally, in 1986, Jamie became sober for the first time.
His medical practice grew and he became a pioneer in the field of physical rehabilitation, shortening recovery time and restoring injured athletes to peak conditioning. He became a team physician to the local high schools and colleges. He took an avid interest in positive psychology, applying it to his patients who were in pain and suffering from depression.
He aggressively pursued a successful and fulfilling life of fitness and spiritual well-being until 1991. Devastated by the death of his mother, Jamie relapsed with alcohol, which had a long-lasting and detrimental impact on his life.
On February 26, 1991, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Applying their recovery principles to his life, Jamie learned an entirely new way of living. As he gained sober experience, he invested nearly all of his time working with other alcoholics; this became his next passion. By that time a father of three, Jamie’s troubled marriage finally ended in divorce, which led to a career-ending major depression. He closed his practice in 1994 to devote himself to his own personal recovery from depression.
During years of individual counseling and psychiatric treatment, Jamie began to rebuild his life. He met and married a woman who would become his strongest supporter and devoted partner.
Jamie established a new career, utilizing his medical expertise by consulting with multiple law firms, doing case reviews for several years. But his true passion—working with alcoholics—eventually awakened the possibility of returning to the practice of medicine. He was accepted into residency training at Boston University in 1998 at the age of forty-eight. After four more years, he completed fellowship training at the University of South Florida in Tampa, becoming an addiction psychiatrist. Jamie set up his private practice in Bradenton, Florida in 2002, and also worked at Manatee Memorial Hospital at the Center for Behavioral Health. He became board certified in psychiatry with special qualification in addiction psychiatry.
At the time of this book’s publication, Jamie has been happily married for fifteen years and credits his wife with helping him establish and manage the daily operations of his very successful practice. He also enjoys a close relationship with his two stepchildren. Jamie devotes a large part of his practice to the treatment of opioid dependence, which afflicts millions through the abuse of pain pills. The alarming rise in deaths from accidental drug overdoses prompted him to write this book in hopes of bringing desperately needed attention to this epidemic and to encourage addicts to seek treatment.