Opiate Addiction

Opiate addiction can start in a hospital….

About 30 years ago I was hit by a car while crossing the street and dragged underneath it until bystanders chased after the driver and forced her to stop.

I was blessed that Emergency Medical Technicians were just leaving a meeting nearby and rushed to help me. I was transported to a hospital and treated there for nearly four weeks before being discharged.

Many wonderful people helped me there but I remember one orthopedic surgeon especially because after a certain number of days, he refused to prescribe additional morphine. I was stunned and terrified to be without it but he told me that if he were to provide it any longer, I would be at risk for addiction.

I don’t think a day goes by in our ongoing opiate addiction crisis that I don’t remember him with enormous gratitude. I made do with prescription strength Tylenol and managed to get through the pain with that. Physical therapy also helped a lot.

Sadly, I’ve since heard many stories of individuals with orthopedic and other injuries who became addicted to opiates and then to heroin. Some are dead now.

Back then, there was little to no opiate addiction being discussed in the news. I was very fortunate to have a physician treating me who was cautious about preventing addiction to pain medications. Nowadays, insurance companies want patients out of hospitals very quickly and physicians don’t have much control over pain treatments after that.

I encourage you to have a thoughtful conversation with your dentist or physician about any opiate medications prescribed for you, just as you would discuss side effects of any other prescribed medications. Discuss other ways to manage pain. If I could do this after such severe Injuries as I experienced, you can too. Be very determined about this.

Good news is that I made a wonderful recovery over time and got back to my life in good condition. I had to give up activities like skiing and mountain climbing but I became a strong swimmer and walked a lot.

Please take the risk of addiction seriously. Also, If you have leftover opiate medications, DO NOT provide them to anyone else ever.