Travis Rieder Publishes New Book, “In Pain”

June 20, 2019

For Travis Rieder, Research Scholar and Director of the MBE Program at the Berman Institute, experience with opioids began after a 2015 motorcycle accident. The medication helped him through six operations but, as he recovered from the injuries, he discovered that withdrawal from the drugs caused excruciating pain of its own. Rather than risk addiction by following his doctors’ advice to return to the opioids, Rieder endured the struggle of withdrawal. Combining this harrowing experience with his professional training, Rieder has written In Pain, a new book published this week by HarperCollins.

Media coverage associated with the book’s publication includes:

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 twenty-first 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.

Kirkus Reviews calls In Pain “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.”

The book arose from a 2017 essay Rieder published in Health Affairs,entitled “In Opioid Withdrawal, With No Help in Sight.” An essay adapted from In Pain appeared in the June 17 Wall Street Journal.