Opioid addicts deserve dignity, not death

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To the Editor:

Patients suffering from opioid addiction do not start out as drug seekers. Often they were prescribed a painkiller for a physical injury which, over time, lost its efficacy. They turn to street drugs which are cheaper and easier to get in order to relieve their pain.

Fear of withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, extreme diarrhea, etc.) is what drives them to continue their drug-seeking habit. We treated a construction worker patient with limited on-the-job bathroom access, for example. Symptoms can make it impossible to work and can last for months which often leads to relapse.

According to the RI Department of Health, in 2015, nearly 300 Rhode Islanders lost their lives to overdose, and that number is increasing – especially those involving fentanyl, a highly potent opioid often laced in heroin – and deadlier than heroin. Suboxone treatment is essential to help patients get their lives back and to decrease unnecessary deaths.

Dead addicts don’t recover. That’s the harsh reality. No one should feel ashamed to get help, and opioid dependence should not be stigmatized. We need to guide

patients to make well-informed decisions about where they choose to get their care.

My outpatient-based physician practice focuses on the utmost privacy, most flexible hours, best access to care, and the dignity patients deserve. It’s difficult enough to take that first step to recovery; let’s resolve in the New Year to do what we can to break the cycle of addiction before more lives are lost in 2017.

Kelly Lambrese, RN, BSN

Founder and President

Recovery Resource

2 Hemingway Drive

East Providence

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