Recently, I have developed a numbness from hearing patients recount disturbing histories of trauma, abuse and pain. I work as an addiction medicine physician in East Tennessee for an organization that primarily serves the uninsured, unhoused and low-income populations. Nearly all my patients end up in my office because of fentanyl, reporting that it is the easiest, most accessible and most economical reprieve from the intense challenges in their everyday lives. Unfortunately, fentanyl is only the tip of the iceberg.
Ryan Alexander, D.O., MPH, is an addiction medicine physician and medical director for substance use disorder services at McNabb Center in Knoxville. He serves on clinical faculty at the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine and the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine.