On a spring day in 2015, Dr. Travis Rieder
’s life changed. A motorcycle accident, a shattered foot, and a long series of surgeries later, the Johns Hopkins University bioethicist had a far deeper understanding of opioid use in America than he ever planned. In his new book In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids
(Harper Collins, 2019), Rieder shares the story of his accident and treatment, while also exploring the complicated history of opioid use in the United States, the challenge of treating something as subjective as pain, and alternatives to our reliance on these drugs. His recommendations—for medical practitioners and for individual patients—are insightful and necessary as America continues to grapple with the unanticipated effects of widespread opioid use.
Emily Dufton is a drug historian and the author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (Basic Books, 2017).