February 2, 2017 – Opioid Issues


Anchor lead:  What can one bioethicist’s experience teach us about the opioid crisis? Elizabeth Tracey reports

A personal experience with being prescribed a plethora of opioid medications in the wake of several surgeries related to an accident has led Travis Rieder, a bioethicist at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins to come clean with his own story, in hopes of informing others. Rieder published his travail recently in the journal Health Affairs.

Rieder: I had a foot crushed in a motorcycle accident, I understand real, genuine, terrible traumatizing pain. In those moments opioids were a miracle, I feel like they saved my life. But it’s also the case that the doctors who saw me didn’t have a plan for how to treat me long term with opioids, a plan to get me off of opioids safely and comfortably, and as a result I went through a lot of suffering, and that’s not okay either. :24

Rieder says everyone, including the patient, has a role in the responsible use of opioids when they are clearly indicated, but also a clear path toward cessation. He says about half of those who currently use heroin describe their journey to addiction via prescription medicines. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.