My question concerns the opioid crisis.
What to say when your good friend nearly overdosed on opioids? After a ski accident three years ago, from which his back hasn’t been without pain since, he became addicted to painkillers. He is a coworker and we find ourselves at work covering for him most days, in one way or another.
–GL, Boston, MA
- Remember, nobody wants their life to be controlled by an addiction. Too easily, taking two pain killers every six hours progresses to taking three every four hours.
- We are facing a national opioid problem of epidemic proportion with over 64,000 overdoses last year - up over 25% from 2015.
- What he should know is that a recent study found that almost twelve percent of patients who took opioids for chronic pain became addicted, so he should look at other methods of dealing with his chronic pain to find out how other opioid addicts figured out how to safely handle continual physical suffering.
- He needs to follow a plan and think about safety first and detoxification, then abstinence.
- His focus should be on his cognitive process and questioning his "thinking errors," because opioid addiction is a known cause of brain disease.
- Suggest that he looks into alternatives - perhaps after a psychological intervention - such as biofeedback, stress management, yoga, and relaxation training.
- Don't give up on him. Talk to him and don't let him blow you off when you ask him how he's doing.
- Remind him that he's not alone.