Gina Thorne: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series. It’s my pleasure today to be joined with Terri Schreiber, who’s part of the End Opioid Crisis consulting group. Welcome, Terri.
Terri Schreiber: Thank you.
Gina Thorne: It’s really nice to have you here at Harmony. We’re here to learn a little bit about your consulting practice, but before we do that, I’d like to hear a little bit more about you. What got you into learning about the opioid crisis? Why are you so fascinated with this topic, as everyone should be?
Terri Schreiber: Thank you for the opportunity to answer that question. My relationship to the opioid crisis and opioids in general stems from a personal injury. I actually have two spine injuries. I’m a chronic pain sufferer for the last 24 years. The first time I injured my spine, I had a whiplash injury. At that time, opioids were not considered the fifth vital sign. I had two years of treatment, chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, and I went about my life.
The second injury had to do with my labor and delivery of my daughter. I fractured my spine and tore three discs. I didn’t seek medical attention right away, but I did lose a great deal of weight. I lost about 40 pounds within the first weeks of my delivery. When I finally sought medical care, opioids was … They were pervasive. Pain was considered a fifth vital sign. The doctors automatically said, “Here’s some medication. What would you like to do?” 10 years later, I continued taking the medication after having a series of medical interventions that were unsuccessful.
After so many people died, I decided that the medicines that I was taking were similar to ones that they were taking when they died, and I didn’t want to. I had a young daughter. So I decided to stop taking them, and I realized that what was happening to me was not so unique. If I had the capacity to improve my quality of life, maybe other people could, too. So I became very invested in the problem, and I thought I could use my research background and try to help others.
Gina Thorne: That’s fantastic. Tell us how that has moved into this consulting business that you have.
Terri Schreiber: Sure. When I was deciding to reclaim my life, I was a PhD student studying public affairs. I have a background in business administration and public administration. I wasn’t sure I’d ever even be able to write again or do research. But my acuity came back. My capacity to do research and writing and to engage quickly came back, so I reached out to an organization called The Colorado Consortium. I joined various work groups to try to figure out how I could engage with people within Colorado to help solve the problem.
I did a lot of research. I sat in a lot of work group meetings, and I concluded that maybe my research skills could be utilized, so I developed a collaborative organization. Right now it’s a medical doctor with addiction management specialty, a professor in public administration and a grant writer, and myself working together. We have our first presentation in a national audience in March of 2018 to share some of our findings on the prescription drug monitoring program and how to make it more effective and efficient.
Gina Thorne: Wow. Can you share a little bit about what that looks like right now? Are you still in the preliminary stages?
Terri Schreiber: We’re very much in the preliminary stages, because there’s so much opportunity relative to the prescription drug monitoring program, the PDMP as a policy tool. We believe that it can be a policy tool to help us understand when there’s overprescribing, when there’s co-prescribing of lethal dosages. For example, benzodiazepines and opioids together. When there’s doctor shopping. We believe if the right data is in the system, then we can begin to change behaviors on the part of the patient as well as the doctor. Hopefully moving forward that the doctor/patient relationship can change so we can find alternative treatments.
Gina Thorne: That’s a great model that many people learn and use now with behavioral health change and addiction treatment, so it certainly makes sense to take the data and utilize it as a way to change behavior, which I think a lot of us have forgotten how to do. I think we’re always … What is it? They call it aim, fire, shoot, I guess. They wait until after the fact, I guess.
This is your first visit to Harmony.
Terri Schreiber: That’s correct.
Gina Thorne: What are your thoughts?
Terri Schreiber: I love it. I’ve had a wonderful day. I got to meet a number of people. I got to have a tour of the facility. Frankly, it reminds me of an Israeli kibbutz situation, where you have a communal dining area. You have the various houses. It’s a very inviting community. I didn’t personally seek treatment when I stopped taking pain medicine, but if I had, I would certainly want to be at a place like this.
Gina Thorne: Oh, thank you for that feedback. That’s wonderful to hear. If someone wanted to access your services or get in touch with you through the End Opioid Crisis Consulting, how could they get in touch with you?
Terri Schreiber: They could get in touch with me via email or via Twitter. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The Twitter account is @endopioidcrisis.
Gina Thorne: Wonderful. Terri, we look forward to hearing great things with you and your group. Thank you so much for all the hard work you’re doing. We’re all out there in the field trying to battle this opioid crisis. It’s nice to know that we’ve got other soldiers out there doing it, too. So thanks for visiting with us.
Terri Schreiber: Well, thank you for inviting me. Thank you for the partnership.