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A Young Woman and Her Withered Rose: Humanizing the Opioid Epidemic

  • Jason L. CampbellEmail author
Healing Arts: Materia Medica

I walked into the room.

A frail young woman was angled in her hospital bed resting peacefully. A vibrant rose tattoo adorned her left ankle and blonde strands of hair covered her eyes. Although I closed the door as softly as I could, she abruptly awoke. Mildly unaware of her surroundings, she cautiously glanced at me—observing my white coat—unaware of her future. “Hi, I’m Dr. Campbell, but please call me Jason. I’ll be one of the doctors caring for you.” She silently nodded in acknowledgment; her attention glued elsewhere as I approached her. I do not know if this is what I visualized in my head when I thought of an intravenous drug user. Most, if not all, of my previous thoughts revolved around a two-dimensional image of danger, dishevelment, and unpredictability.

The truth is never that simple.

In actuality, she may not make it to her 30th birthday, a fact worsened by her limited awareness of this fatal reality. Her chance of survival—lessened by an abnormal growth on one of the...

Notes

References

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    National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” NIDA. 2019. www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis#seven. 8/12/2019.
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    Vowles KE, McEntee ML, Julnes PS, Frohe T, Ney JP, van der Goes DN. Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis. Pain. 2015;156(4):569–576.  https://doi.org/10.1097/01.j.pain.0000460357.01998.f1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Jones CM, Campopiano M, Baldwin G, McCance-Katz E. National and state treatment need and capacity for opioid agonist medication-assisted treatment. Am J Public Health. 2015; 105:e55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Dowell D, Haegerich TM, Chou R. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2016;65(RR-1):1–49.  https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.rr6501e1external-icon CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine Oregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA

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