Travis N. Rieder – Quality Talks 2020 Q&A

The motorcycle accident was serious. Dr. Travis Rieder needed six surgeries to recover from it. But it was the opioids, prescribed for pain, that threatened his life and livelihood. The Johns Hopkins bioethics professor became dependent.


When he stopped taking the meds, the unexpected withdrawal symptoms proved almost unbearable, so much so that Rieder’s own doctors advised him to go back on the pills and try to quit later. He rejected that advice, went cold turkey and weathered the withdrawal symptoms. Now, his experience gives him unique insight as a health care leader who found himself addicted.


Some doctors see treating pain as a balance. Others might call it a tightrope: Do I prescribe medication and risk the patient’s addiction, or withhold and let the patient suffer?


Dr. Rieder would say that’s overly simplified. His new book, In Pain, explores the opioid epidemic, why it’s so pervasive and how some doctors make very big mistakes. He also travels the country to expose what he calls the “dark secrets” of pain management and the health care system. It brings new meaning to the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you…”