Pain and Suffering -- What We Can Do To Address the Opioid Crisis and Its Relationship to Suicide: Interview with Dr. Don Teater | Episode 33

DEFINITION: Pain — An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. International ~Association for the Treatment of Pain

Did you know?

  • Approximately 30% of ALL ER visits end with a prescription for a opioid. (Teater, 2015)

  • Approximately 60% of patients going to the ER with back pain will get an opioid prescription. (Teater, 2015)

    • Primary care doctors give opioids to about 35% of their patients presenting with back pain. 

  • Pain is the most common reason for people to go to the ER or to their primary care doctor. (Teater, 2015)

  • One opioid prescription after an injury doubles the risk of being disabled at one year. (Teater, 2015)

  • The combined deaths among Americans — suicide and unintentional overdose — in 2000 was 41,364 deaths and in 2017 was 110,749 deaths. (Bohnert & Ilgen, 2019)

The good news is there are shared prevention approaches, and we are learning more and more as the silos between those addressing the opioid crisis and those addressing suicide begin to fall away. In this podcast Dr. Don Teater and I explore how opioid use and suicide are connected and what we need to do to find better ways to alleviate pain and suffering.

Teater, D. (2015). Prescription Opioids: The Real Story.

About Dr. Don Teater

Medical Advisor
National Safety Council
Don is a family practitioner from Western North Carolina. His practice now concentrates on the treatment of pain and the treatment of opioid use disorder. Don was the lead facilitator for the expert panel discussion during the development of the CDC guidelines for treating pain. He continues to contract with the CDC on educating prescribers on the treatment of acute and chronic pain.

Dr. Don Teater

Show Notes

National Safety Council White Papers

Bohnert, A. & Ilgen, M. (2019). Understanding links among opioid use, overdose, and suicide. New England Journal of Medicine. 380:71-79.

Franklin GM, Stover BD, Turner J a, Fulton-Kehoe D, Wickizer TM. Early opioid prescription and subsequent disability among workers with back injuries: the Disability Risk Identification Study Cohort. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2008;33(2):199-204. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e318160455c.

Teater, D. (n.d.). Evidence for the efficacy of pain medications. National Safety Council. Retrieved on April 11, 2019 from

Teater, D. (n.d.) The psychological and physical side effects of pain medications. National Safety Council. Retrieved on April 10, 2019 from

Teater, D. (2015, October 29). Prescription Opioids: The Real Story.  Presentation at the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium.

Webster BS, Verma SK, Gatchel RJ. Relationship between early opioid prescribing for acute occupational low back pain and disability duration, medical costs, subsequent surgery and late opioid use. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007;32(19):2127-2132. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e318145a731.