How do we change an entire medical system?
That’s the question that occurs to me when thinking about how our medical schools teach prospective doctors how to prescribe pills but don’t teach them how to help patients get off the pills they are prescribed.
Our medical institutions are responsible for creating more intense pain than the pain that is caused as a result of physical injury.
Doctors easily prescribe addictive opioids. But they have absolutely no idea how to help wean their patients off of the drugs when they are no longer needed for pain control. Thus begins the horrendously painful cycle of addiction.
This is so perfectly illustrated in a recent book I heard about entitled In Pain, by bioethicist Travis Reider, who was prescribed opioids after a motorcycle accident. When he went to his doctor to ask how to get off the opioids, the doctor was stumped. He didn’t have a clue.
In the book’s preface, it states, “The drugs he (Travis) received were both miraculous and essential to his recovery – for a time. But the most profound suffering Travis would endure arrived months after the accident, when he went into acute opioid withdrawal while following his physician’s orders. Over the course of four excruciating weeks, Rieder experienced firsthand, all day long and through the night, what it means to be “dope sick” – the absolute physical and mental agony that is opioid withdrawal. Clueless how to taper off these intensely powerful painkillers, Travis turned to his doctors, who suggested that he go back on the drugs and simply try again later.”
This book joins the voices calling for change within both government and medicine. I hope many people will read it and join the call for change for this insidious epidemic.