The problem of opioid addiction now affects us all. For me, the biggest shock came when one of my patients, former National Football League quarterback Erik Kramer, tried to commit suicide after his 18-year-old son, a high school quarterback, died of a heroin overdose.
It’s a vivid illustration of the way the ripples from drug abuse are becoming a tsunami that destroys not only the addicted but everyone around them. As sports physicians, we must do our part to beat back the waves, beginning with our approach to controlling patients’ pain.
The magnitude and complexity of the problem makes it truly daunting. In the year ending July 2017, a total of 66,972 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, a 14.4% increase over the previous year. That includes more than 115 deaths from opioids per day.