• In Pain

  • A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids
  • By: Travis Rieder
  • Narrated by: Travis Rieder
  • Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (116 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

What listeners say about In Pain

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Book with an agenda

This man suffers from tunnel vision, but my main complaint is that much of what he claims is absolutely unsubstantiated. Just another salvo in the witch hunt for innocent people with intractable able pain who have no other options. But I guess all the back slapping for writing a supportive book for all those doctors seeking redemption and forgiveness who dropped their patients in need must be worth it. You’re a small man.

4 people found this helpful

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BEWILDERING AT BEST

The book is full of skewered facts, and very disingenuous, and you will learn nothing in this book other than this doctor trying to convince you he was dependent on a drug that has a half life of 12 hours at most, but it took him a month to withdraw from it. Millions nation wide suffering from chronic intractable pain, and are being under treated for their pain. Addiction is a serious problem I will admit, but their are great addiction recovery units nationwide, but this book is basically a book for a senior in high school. A book about one doctors feelings about addiction, but surely shows the author needs to spend some time educating himself on this subject matter.

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The reality of pain

Travis does a justice to all alike myself whom have suffered from pain & the medicinal worlds failings in assisting, managing & treating pain. With gripping moments about the difficulty to find a professional to listen & then help, to the withdrawal nightmare Travis goes through. This book/audiobook is a must for anyone whom has any interest on this topic, or has someone in their life facing battles in this area. Thanks for your vulnerability & for telling your story Travis. It has significantly helped me during a very challenging flare up patch with my Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia.

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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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Excellent Book to be read by Health Care Professionals, Politicians, and Patients

Excellent book providing insight on acute pain leading to dependence. It explores the flaws of our healthcare system as well as the 3 Opioid Epidemics. The book is well written and narrated. As a former plastic surgery resident and currently an Acute Pain Medicine Fellow (via Anesthesiology), this book was an eye opener to our obligations to patients when deciding to start them on any medication.

This book should be read by all—especially all members of the healthcare profession, politicians, members of Congress, senators, and even patients.

I love the fact that the author presents some reasonable solutions.

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Covers all bases; hits it out of the park

I heard an interview w Dr Rieder in NPR and was hooked on this book (hmm...bad choice of words in this context, perhaps). As a retired oncologist, I lived thru the “Pain-is-the-5th-vital-sign” era and the “Pain is what the patient says” and “Din’t worry about dependence.” I had never known the interesting history of the evolution of opiods and especially the early experiences in the US including the addiction of Civil War survivors!

This book is so powerful, however, not just because of the gripping scenes of his courage in the face of withdrawal (I honestly did not think I would make it thru Chapter 5!), and how his personal story illuminates the problem our country faces. It is powerful because he drives this story right into our living rooms with contemporary events—eg, the clean needles program in Ohio signed into law by a reluctant Gov Mike Pence as the lesser of two evils—addiction vs spread of HIV—but he uses his training as a bioethicist to provide a framework for moral decisions in this area where there are many strongly held, and often negative, beliefs.

Dr Rieder lays out the complexity of this problem empathetically but starkly and challenges us to act. Not with simple solutions, but with a simple change in mindset: this is a medical problem that requires expert medical treatment not shame AND with widespread acceptance of this attitude, then the political, legislative, and financial muscle to effect this treatment.

Finally, I can’t imagine how his wife held it together with a toddler and the agony in which she saw her husband. In that sense this is the most uplifting of love stories.

I ALWAYS LOVE AUDIOBOOKS READ BY THE AUTHORS. I feel like I am sitting across from them in an easy chair listening to their animated retelling of their story.

A great read!

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Putting a human face on a national problem

Travis Rieder's book "In Pain" starts out as a gripping and very personal story of how the author deals with pain and the impact of opioid pain killers in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident that severely injured his foot. Before too long though, it becomes clear how this intimately personal story is also the story of millions of people in the grip of opioid dependence and how a gaping gap in the medical system contributes to this epidemic. Rather than just blaming the medical system, the author does a wonderful job showing how larger societal factors such as our perception of people with addictions, and racism play a significant role. I personally would go one step further and also implicate capitalism and mental health oppression as some of the agents. Either way, this book is a highly recommended read that will shift your perspective on the opioid crisis and how we can counteract it.

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Hits close to home

As unfortunate as it is it was uplifting to hear this story of struggle and triumph from a medical professional perspective. So many times it feels like we are the only ones experiencing every thing he described in the book. To know that we are not alone keeps the drive alive one day at a time. I'd like to hear the story from his partners perspective as that's the role I am in and hear how she survived this time in their lives. Inspiring.

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Excellent treatment of a challenging issue

Pain management is one of the most challenging and paradoxical medical issues that we face as both individuals and as a community.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-10-21

Excellent!

More books like this should be written. It is so informative and readers who can relate to the pain of prescription opioids should be very grateful for the personal story shared by Travis Rieder.

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  • SJS
  • 10-28-20

It’s true the doctors make mistakes

I’ve also been fallen through the cracks of the hospitals / doctor farm with opiods and not a single one has come to assist me despite my plea. I’ve had surgeons removed healthy organs and give me conflicting info thus leaving me with a life ahead of chronic pain. Worse still they won’t even say sorry. My story is similar to yours although I could safely say much worse with the multitude of processes I’ve been through. I think your lucky that you are back to health as millions of us are not. Good luck on that and what a great book. My message to all those unethical doctors.

Your karma will come one day so I may suffer now in this life but I’m sure your suffer in your next.

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Profile Image for Audible is the VERY BEST app there is!💯🙌🏽❤️
  • Audible is the VERY BEST app there is!💯🙌🏽❤️
  • 12-19-19

I know EXACTLY how you feel and have went through the same...poss worse!😢

I have had the worst time ever in 2015 and i was actually going through it all at the same time as you!!!😱 I would love if you would contact me about things? Im struggling so so badly with pain...still and im actually getting sorer by the day atm😔if you see this and have a min to message then could you please email me? I would really appreciate it thank you♥️ nursesimple@googlemail.com
Thank you and wow what a story and you are amazing!💪🏽👏🏽♥️xxx