Listen to the Voices Silenced by Overdoses

By Judy Rummler, Guest Columnist

In reply to the recent article in Pain News Network about the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, I want first of all to say that I have great compassion for those with chronic pain. 

My son Steve suffered from back pain for 15 years and many of the staff and volunteers of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation have family members who have also suffered with chronic pain.  Sadly, many of us have lost our loved ones to opioid overdoses and we are working to prevent this from happening to other families. 

Had more cautious and responsible opioid prescribing practices been implemented before Steve died of an accidental overdose, he would have been terrified at the thought of losing access to his opioid pain medication.  He had developed the disease of addiction and had come to believe that his pills were the only solution for his chronic pain. 

Steve was a dean’s list student, all-conference soccer player and a gifted musician. He had many friends and a loving fiancée and family, yet he lost interest in almost everything that had once been important to him. 

He experienced the dilemma facing those who need treatment for both chronic pain and addiction.  Among his belongings we found a note describing his pills that said, “At first they were a lifeline; now they are a noose around my neck.” 



It is important to remember that, while we can all hear the calls for relief from those who are suffering with chronic pain, we can no longer hear the 200,000 plus silenced voices of those who have died from opioid overdoses.  These people did not want to die and many of them would have lived if physicians had practiced more cautious and responsible prescribing.  Like most doctors, Steve’s doctor was well-intentioned but had received little training on the prescribing of opioids for pain.  

In an effort to provide this much-needed training, the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation has created a lecture series on “Pain, Opioids and Addiction” in partnership with the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and the University of Minnesota Medical School.  

These lectures are presented to medical students, videotaped and made available for continuing medical education (CME) at no cost on the MMA website.  The hope of the series is to create a medical curriculum on pain, opioids and addiction as it should be in a medical school setting: balanced, practical, evidence-based information free of commercial bias.

The mission of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation is to heighten awareness of the dilemma of chronic pain and the disease of addiction, and to improve the associated care process.  We provide hope for those with chronic pain and addiction through our three programs: Overdose Prevention, Prescriber Education and Advocacy.  More information is available on our website.

Judy Rummler is a co-founder of the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Minnesota. The foundation recently became the fiscal sponsor of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP).

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The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.