I treat because, as a Nurse Practitioner, MAT provider, and empathetic advocate for patients who suffer relentless stigma every day, I make a daily difference in the lives of people devastated by Opioid Use Disorder. Four years ago, as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department, I had a patient with a traumatic injury from a power saw. He had nearly severed three fingers and had deep lacerations on his hand requiring immediate repair and suturing. I remember his dogged refusal of narcotic pain medications for the extreme pain while the injury was cleaned out and repaired; a Percocet addiction after an injury in Afghanistan made him terrified to ever take them again. ED providers attempted to avoid narcotics, and he suffered for hours, during which my role was to comfort, distract, and support him. My shift ended before the case resolved, and I heard days later that they had finally resorted to morphine after blockers had been ineffective. Two weeks later I recognized his name in the ED; he had relapsed and attempted suicide. That morning, EMTs pushed his stretcher by on their way to a facility; I will never forget that powerful sadness in his eyes.
Nancy Curran, NP Nurse Practitioner ASAM member since 2018