Travis Rieder, PhD Director

Travis Rieder, PhD, is a bioethicist, philosopher, and leading voice on the ethical and policy implications of America’s opioid crisis. A research scholar and director of the Master of Bioethics degree program at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, he has published on a wide variety of topics in various academic journals, including Health Affairs and the American Journal of Bioethics. His work has appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post and on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “All Things Considered.”

In his memoir, In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids, Rieder recounts his terrifying experience with opioid dependence which began with a motorcycle accident. Rieder endured half a dozen surgeries during which opioids were prescribed. His most profound suffering came several months later when he went into acute opioid withdrawal while following physician’s orders and learned what it means to be “dope sick”—to suffer the physical and mental agony caused by opioid dependence. Clueless how to manage his opioid taper, doctors suggested he go back on the drugs and try again later. Instead, Rieder continued the painful process of weaning himself. 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.

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
Baltimore, Maryland

Plenary Session II