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Over 702,000 Americans have died of opioid overdose since 1999. The CDC estimates that in 2017, 72,287 individuals in the United States died of opioid overdose, an increase of 10% over 2016. On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
This blog is inspired by the belief that many people’s introduction to a life of opioid-dependence, addiction, and overdose could begin with an injury and a prescription. I am one of the lucky ones. I survived years of opioid treatment for chronic pain, but not without difficulty. Due to my success in overcoming dependence and living with chronic pain for more than twenty-five years, a love of research, and a commitment to community service, I started The Schreiber Research Group and this blog. One goal is to move the needle forward as the groundswell of interest in reducing overdose deaths gains momentum. An additional goal is to create community, a forum to share ideas.
As a starting point, I have identified “Core Principles” for The Schreiber Research Group (TSRG) based on lessons learned from a daily opioid treatment protocol that did not provide the relief I was seeking. Instead, I found living each day following these principles, I was able to reduce pain levels, maximize function, avoid surgery, learn to sleep, and experience joy each and every day. I am oversimplifying because the hard work of detoxing and finding measurable solutions is not an easy or straightforward path. However, in my experience, managing chronic pain without the use of opioids is achievable. It is also true that by adhering to these principles, I moved from being a bedridden pain patient to becoming happy and physically active. In short, I reclaimed my life.
Core Principles of TSRG:
- Becoming pain-free is not the goal. The goal is to restore function and maximize quality of life.
- Opioids are one treatment option. They come with risks and can be effective if those risks are understood and mitigated.
- Benzodiazepines and opioid combinations account for up to 50% of all opioid related deaths. Neither are intended for chronic use.
- When treating a patient (new or existing) non-opioid treatment options should always be considered.
- Awareness of (OIH) opioid induced hyperalgesia is essential for understanding pain response and treatment plan efficacy.
- There is no one policy that can fully address the opioid crisis. A multipronged approach that fits a specific context is needed.
With the enthusiasm that accompanies a new lease on life, I started this blog in 2019 with the hope of giving patients, providers, policy makers, and family members a virtual destination to consider our relationship to addiction-prone substances. Patients can learn about how to live with pain when the goal is not a pain-free life, but a life where function can improve or be restored. Providers can learn more about the patient perspective. Policy makers can learn about our latest research findings. Family members can find hope. At the end of the day, we can jointly share lessons learned and frustrations. We no longer have to suffer in quiet agony.
Do you have feedback on our research agenda or interest in supporting our work? I welcome feedback! Please write firstname.lastname@example.org .
With profound gratitude and encouragement,