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In Pain

A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids
Narrated by: Travis Rieder
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A bioethicist’s eloquent and riveting memoir of opioid dependence and withdrawal - a harrowing personal reckoning and clarion call for change not only for government but medicine itself, revealing the lack of crucial resources and structures to handle this insidious nationwide epidemic.

Travis Rieder’s terrifying journey down the rabbit hole of opioid dependence began with a motorcycle accident in 2015. Enduring half a dozen surgeries, the drugs he received were both miraculous and essential to his recovery. But his most profound suffering came several months later when he went into acute opioid withdrawal while following his physician’s orders. Over the course of four excruciating weeks, Rieder learned what it means to be “dope sick” - the physical and mental agony caused by opioid dependence. Clueless how to manage his opioid taper, Travis’ doctors suggested he go back on the drugs and try again later. Yet returning to pills out of fear of withdrawal is one route to full-blown addiction. Instead, Rieder continued the painful process of weaning himself.

Rieder’s experience exposes a dark secret of American pain management: a healthcare system so conflicted about opioids, and so inept at managing them, that the crisis currently facing us is both unsurprising and inevitable. As he recounts his story, Rieder provides a fascinating look at the history of these drugs first invented in the 1800s, changing attitudes about pain management over the following decades, and the implementation of the pain scale at the beginning of the 21st century. He explores both the science of addiction and the systemic and cultural barriers we must overcome if we are to address the problem effectively in the contemporary American healthcare system. In Pain is not only a gripping personal account of dependence, but a groundbreaking exploration of the intractable causes of America’s opioid problem and their implications for resolving the crisis. Rieder makes clear that the opioid crisis exists against a backdrop of real, debilitating pain - and that anyone can fall victim to this epidemic. 

©2019 Travis Rieder (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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An essential read in a time of crisis

This brave, important book belongs on the nightstand of anyone touched by the opioid crisis—that is to say, most Americans. In direct, lucid prose, the author interweaves the harrowing story of his own struggle with opioid dependence with philosophical, clinical, and policy-oriented reflections on the roots of the broader opioid crisis in the US. Rieder’s role as both a professional ethicist and a pain patient places him in a unique position, and the book is laced with careful but substantive suggestions for ways to change everything from medical prescribing to drug laws to our own attitudes about race, addiction, and blame. A stunning achievement.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating perspective

Loved this book. It sheds such an important light on the complexities of the opioid crisis, our fractured health care system, and gave me the hope to do what I can to fight back against this overwhelming problem. My mom has been taking rxn opioids since the mid nineties and I am also a registered nurse and mother of 4. I’ve too struggled with my own debilitating addiction. Travis’s vulnerability helped me feel connected and understood, it has been and continues to be such a frustrating and overwhelming problem. Thanks for your work Travis!!

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