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Veteran advocates for opioid alternatives

Kim Robbins of Laurium injured her hip while serving, a career that included tours overseas in Germany. By 2015, it needed to be replaced. During the recovery process, she became addicted to the medication that was supposed to help her heal. She says that when she began to question how she was reacting to it and if she was possibly becoming dependent on the drugs, she was told that was impossible. It is a common story for many who suffered in recent years.

After a year I was just calling into my primary care [physician] and saying, “I need my refill.” I would go to a window and pick up my prescription with no follow through like, “Why are you still in pain? Let’s discuss why you still need this and what can we do to solve this?”

Robbins says that after a particularly scary episode, she committed to going off opioids cold turkey. Withdrawals lasted weeks.

Today, Robbins advocates for alternatives through a bill known as the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction In the Nation (NOPAIN) Act. She says that she has had a permanent entry added to her medical record to avoid the administration of drugs that could potentially get her hooked again.

Robbins is active in peer support groups that help to break through the feelings of isolation many addicts go through. She says that was one of the driving forces that kept her from seeking help.

I was having this battle in my head like you have to get help, you have to tell somebody. And then I was afraid. What are they going to think of me? How could I do something like this? And that stigma to tell people and have judgement was terrifying.

The NOPAIN Act has support from United States Senator Gary Peters and Congressman Jack Bergman. September is National Recovery Month, dedicated to helping promote therapies that work with fewer risks. Robbins says she doesn’t want to ban opioid treatments, but she says there must be alternatives.

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