Taylor’s addiction started with a shoulder surgery and a bottle of Percocet. He would later tell us that when he took those Percocet, it made his “brain feel normal for the first time”. It was the match that lit the spark that hijacked his brain and led to his battle with addiction. He chased that feeling until it killed him. The treatment of SUD and mental health issues leave a lot to be desired. The gaps are many and it is hard to find good care. Each of those gaps represents the potential for relapse and with fentanyl there is no room for error. My beautiful boy died of an accidental overdose on June 29, 2019.
Ironically, 6 years after Taylor’s shoulder surgery, Blair his sister, had the very same shoulder injury and surgery Taylor did. What I found was that little had changed. She was going to be given the same Percocet post surgery that Taylor was. We REFUSED opiates and Blair was able to receive a non-opioid option that slowed the release of her numbing block. That block lasted about 6 days and she had little pain and only took tylenol. Our story is all too common and so many of us do what doctors tell us. They are telling far too many of us that we need opiates for our children for orthopedic surgeries and wisdom teeth extractions. Doctors need to do better too and we as consumers should have non-opioid pain management options post surgery that we don’t have to fight for. We know how addictive opiates are yet they are prescribed for routine surgeries like tic tacs.
The NoPAIN Act is legislation that was before Congress in the last session and did not pass. It would require the coverage and access of non-opioid pain management options like Blair was given. Congress has the opportunity to pass legislation that would create real Change. I do a lot of talking about how dysfunctional the system that treats SUD. In truth, we need to go up river and keep thousands of people like Taylor from falling in the river in the first place. Once you fall in you are in a fight for your life. No one should fall in because they have a procedure and are given a prescription. Medical professionals have to do better and as parents we have to demand it. The goal should be to manage pain. Not have zero pain. There are non opioid pain management alternatives. Discuss this with your doctor. If they aren’t telling you the risks of opiates know them going in. From 1999 to 2018, more than 232,000 people died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids. In developing brains we need to be real sure it is worth the risk and truly the safest option. #NoOneChoosesAddiction,#HowIsThisReal?