The current opioid crisis—driven partly by medical overprescription and partly by illegal drug abuse—is a significant cultural and professional dilemma in the USA and elsewhere. It has produced a strong reaction in favour of restricting medical use of opioids for pain, especially chronic pain. The author for a quarter century has written about pain from a biocultural perspective, and in this essay—based on his experience as primary caregiver for his late wife—he approaches the question of appropriate opioid use at the end of life.
- medical humanities
- care of the elderly
- end-of-life care
- narrative medicine
- pain management
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Contributors I am the owner of the photograph of my wife.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Author note The patient, my wife, is deceased. The memoir-like portions of this article--in keeping with the subtitle--focus on my experience as caregiver, rather than on her experience as patient.