Helping End the Opioid Epidemic is something we as people are going to have to do. For decades now, our country and many others have been in a spiraling crisis that has become out of control. That crisis is the OPIOID EPIDEMIC. The opioid epidemic is responsible for killing at least 90+ Americans on the books daily according to the CDC, and that’s just what’s reported.
America has just 5% of the global population yet we scarf down 80% of the world’s opioids. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot. People are often unaware that they’re addicted to the prescriptions given to them by their doctor, legal to take at work, and covered by insurance until it’s too late. After all, you are supposed to trust the advice and recommendations you receive from your doctor, right?
Sadly, this isn’t true as a young Kyle Dijon Hill discovered. Like so many out there she became exposed to pain management because of not just one but two near-death automobile accidents. Ms. Hill helped me coauthor this story by sharing her experience in her words.
“After a car accident left me with fractured vertebrae among other injuries and severe chronic pain, I slowly became a victim to the unacknowledged devastation of opiates. As a medical student and a researcher within the realm of cannabinoid science, I provide a unique perspective on Americas’ current situation of overprescribed and poorly monitored opiate pharmaceuticals.”-KDH
With her future in front of her, the bright young Ms. Hill was set to help make the world a better place through her desire to complete med school. Though we may make plans they don’t always work out the way we think they will, as was the case for Ms. Hill.
“I studied Speech Communications/Public speaking and Biology at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, with the intentions of applying to medical school shortly after graduation. Unexpectedly, as most tragedies occur, I was t-boned by a woman who ran a red light at 80mph on the early morning of a late-night birthday celebration.”-KDH
Just take a moment and imagine if you will the horror of your life on track one minute, the next your clinging to that very life with all you have, just to keep it. It may not be the life you knew, but life none the less. The human desire to survive is impeccable as you can see here with what happened to Kyle as a result of being T-boned.
“The accident fractured my C-1 and C-2 in what is referred to as a hangman’s neck fracture. The impact of the vehicle severed my femur at the joint, smashed my pelvis, broke my collar bone and fractured most of my ribs on the right side resulting in internal bleeding.”-KDH
Kyle was fortunate to be alive. In the blink of an eye, her life was changed. Her thoughts of school and pursuing a career in medicine would have to be placed on hold, for now. For the next several months she would be unsure if she would ever have the use of her arms or legs let alone be able to pursue her dreams of medicine.
“I was in ICU for three weeks, resided at Memorial Herman in the Houston medical center for three months, at a rehabilitation facility for three weeks and in cervical stabilization or halo for a total of 4.5 months. Pain management was a necessity given the extensive nature of my injuries.”-KDH
The Pain (Treatment) Begins
When the body experiences injury, the first line of action in treating the injury is typically pain management. Pain management treatments involve helping the patient to relieve suffering and discomfort through prescription drugs. This treatment starts with the best of intentions but as we see with the epidemic at hand is not the solution. These treatments should be the last option, not a first. The side effects from these treatments can be as deadly and devastating as the injuries and sometimes even worse.
“I was started out on a Morphine pump which my body completely rejected, causing violent vomit spells, finally switching to scheduled dosages of Hydromorphone delivered via IV port. Upon being discharged from the rehabilitation center, it was necessary for the port to be removed and the Hydromorphone was stopped abruptly.”-KDH
The doctors and physicians that prescribe these medications must not understand the reactions that their patients experience. If they do and they still support this method of treatment, it tends to make one wonder if a patient cured indeed is a customer lost?
Surely a medical professional wouldn’t prescribe a treatment that would leave a patient addicted, would they? I guess the opioid epidemic answers that question. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, you can see some of them listed below.
- Muscle pains and cramps
- Excessive irritation and extreme cravings
- Shakes, chills, hot and cold flashes
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled anger
- Bone and body aches
- Nausea, diarrhea, and queasiness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Flu-like symptoms
“I was inadvertently exposed to the grim experience of opioid withdrawals with no explanation nor treatment for the symptoms I endured, fever, shakes, uncontrollable vomiting, muscle spasms, and excruciating pain.”-KDH
This entire time Kyle’s only form of mobility was in a wheelchair. Her body was devastated by the injuries she received and from the pain management treatment as well. The next few years would be a long road to recovery for Ms. Hill. Like so many millions of people, she would soon find herself addicted to a plethora of pharmaceuticals.
“With extensive in-home rehabilitation, I made it out of my wheelchair, learned how to walk again, and before long was back to running. The next few years were riddled with various opioid concoctions; hydrocodone, Oxycotin, Vicodin, Percocet, fentanyl patches. “-KDH
Prescribed Addiction and Diagnosed with Depression
With prescription drug addiction comes side effects that can be devastating. A bright young woman had her life changed in the blink of an eye. She never asked to become a customer of pharma or a victim of what was expected. It used to be and still is in many instances that people are not concerned about a person taking drugs as long as they are prescribed to the person. Kyle knows these symptoms first hand because she lived them.
“I fell into a life of a pain-stricken depressed zombie which later gained me various mental illness diagnosis, everything from bipolar type 2 to anxiety, depression, ADHD, and psychosis. I later discovered that my extensive run with opioids caused a strong decline in my mental and psychological health.”-KDH
When people are in pain, it only seems natural for most to reach for what the doctor prescribed. Sadly, these prescriptions are handed out like candy on Halloween. Many patients end up being prescribed several different pain pills at the same time. Many times, you’ll find people with stories very similar to Kyle’s.
“I started and stopped every anti-depressant, anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, and anti-psychotic on the market in 2011 for my plethora of diagnosis. So now, my cocktail included various debilitating psych pharmaceuticals as well as one of every type of opioid.”-KDH
Isn’t It A Little Ironic, Don’t You Think
Despite the diagnosis of being confined to a wheelchair, Kyle was told she would most likely not have use of her arms or legs. Kyle proved them wrong. Isn’t it a little ironic, don’t’ you think? Ironic that doctors had told this young lady this instead of pushing her for the best. Kyle had shown them something different. She was back in the swing of life pursuing her goals working at the UT Medical Center in Houston. Her position was a little ironic, I really do think.
“I was currently working as a scientific liaison at UT Medical Center in Houston in addiction studies, which is now quite ironic, but at the time was just a decent after graduation occupation. My extensive pharmaceutical usage was destroying my quality of life, and it became so difficult that it landed me a 2-week “vacation” at an inpatient psychiatric hospital.”-KDH
OK, so we all feel like we are going to lose it from time to time. Add in chronic pain, depression, plus addiction, and you have a Molotov cocktail for disaster. When this cocktail becomes volatile, more medicine is in order. Kyle learned this first hand from her two-week stint in an in-patient psychiatric hospital.
“The two weeks included “regulating” my current prescriptions and 30-minute conversations once a week with a psychologist who attempted to find some suppressed trauma from my childhood, which proved in vain.’-KDH
By this time anyone would be a bit upset and would have the right to lose faith in the medical community. When all their answers to everything seems to be a pill, it’s as if a dark rain cloud lurks over you to help wash your medicine down. This leads many patients to look for other treatment options.
“Upon my release, frustration led me on a Google quest to explore the vast therapeutic potential of cannabis. Here was a natural remedy that was supposed to ease my pain, calm my anxiety, reduce my depression, and help me sleep at night, all without terrible side effects. At first, it seemed too good to be true, but with a deeper understanding of the Endocannabinoid System, I began to understand how it all worked in connection with cannabis.”-KDH
More Research Isn’t Needed You Just Have to Do Some Yourself
Like so many others the research on how to reduce the symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation led to plant medicine like CBD from cannabis. The United States Department of Health knows that cannabis has a ton of medical benefits hence their Patent US6630507, yet they still cling to draconian cannabis prohibition laws that are hurting millions. Sometimes the best way to heal is to get away from it all. This was the route chosen by Ms. Hill.
“I spent two years abroad in Suwon, South Korea teaching English and Science while obtaining my master’s in clinical research from Walden University. I was also learning all I could about natural Eastern medical practices, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. The time abroad aided in my recovery from opioid addiction due to limited access and stringent drug policy preventing physicians from over or unnecessarily prescribing opioids.”-KDH
When you have a passion, you have a passion. Kyle had a passion for medicine. After seeing how she was treated, it sparked that passion Kyle had to practice medicine even more. This passion that is driving Kyle to help change the bad is the same passion that is driving so many to help make an overdue change today.
It’s passion like this, from people like you and Kyle that will be responsible for Helping End the Opioid Epidemic. The draw to these dangerous pills can grab you even when you think you have them beat. We are only human beings.
“I would like to say that my opioid addiction ended in Korea where access was limited to none but following my 2nd year in Korea I made the decision to go to medical school in the Caribbean. While studying medicine In Curacao, I dealt with the debilitating nature of constant chronic pain as well as the pressures of being a medical student.”-KDH
Life has many pressures that are different for everyone. These pressures can weigh on both a person’s physical and mental well-being. Once again, factor in the stresses of life with the symptoms of chronic pain and you are starting the mixture for that Molotov cocktail again.
“I began to abuse Tramadol to the extent that my liver enzymes were aberrant, and I began to show early signs of liver failure. My situation frightened me to my core, and I frantically disposed of all the pharmaceuticals I had acquired over the years. This sparked my burning passion to not only educate but also connect with others that have experienced similar downfall into opioid abuse and addiction.”-KDH
Now you know what the driving force behind the passion is that you find in Kyle Dijon Hill. Having more than studied the opioid epidemic she lived it first-hand. This gives Kyle a formidable advantage on the front lines in fighting this epidemic. H.E.O.E is the start of helping bring an end to a problem that’s only being ignored by many in our government. This epidemic is affecting people of all ages and all walks of life.
Especially the elderly and low-income individuals and families out there. States that have legalized recreational access to cannabis for adults have an average 25% reduction in opioid overdoses. Cannabis is essential for the human body. Phytocannabinoids cannot be produced naturally by our body. Cannabis has been a major part of medicine around the world for thousands of years.
It wasn’t until in the early 1900’s that the plant became demonized by a power-crazed government. Industry and profit have allowed those draconian ways of thinking about cannabis to remain and even be built upon. If not for the age of the internet, people may still believe the nonsenses rhetoric spewed from the mouths of our elected officials. Luckily, we are a connected society that is set on reclaiming our lives form corporate control.
“I have made it my mission to expose the horrific realities of overprescribed and poorly monitored opioids while utilizing scientific, economic, and sociological data from various avenues to construct a sound argument that medical Cannabis is the most viable solution to curtail the opioid epidemic.”-Kyle Dijon Hill
Kyle Dijon Hill Short Bio:
(Connect with Kyle on LinkedIn to network and follow her story)-Kyle Dijon Hill is a current medical student, cannabinoid science researcher, long-term advocate for medical Cannabis and Assistant Director for the Helping End the Opioid Epidemic project. She received her undergraduate degree from Trinity University in Speech Communications and Biology. An interest in clinical research led her to pursue a Master’s of Science in Clinical research from Walden University while teaching English and Science abroad in Suwon, South Korea. After a car accident left her with fractured vertebrae among other injuries and severe chronic pain, she slowly became a victim of the unacknowledged devastation of opiates. Her unique patient perspective of Americas’ current opioid epidemic fuels her passion for educating others of the potential for cannabis as the most viable solution for the opioid epidemic.