Ending an Epidemic: Chronic Pain and Cannabis, A Personal Story

Kristina Etter
10 min readOct 10, 2023

The opioid epidemic is raging out of control; I’m here to tell you… there’s a solution.

According to the CDC, “the number of people who died from a drug overdose in 2021 was over six times the number in 1999. The number of drug overdose deaths increased by more than 16% from 2020 to 2021. Over 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid.”

My husband could’ve easily been a part of these statistics.

A Perfect Storm for Pain

Like most men, my husband didn’t consider the consequences of his hell-raising youth. He took risks and put his body in jeopardy.

A typical midwestern boy in the ’80s and ’90s, he rode dirt bikes, he hunted, he fished, and he partied.

Then, as an adult, he spent much of his time in a grueling factory job where repetitive motion took its toll.

He had his first shoulder surgery in 2007, followed by ample prescriptions for opiates.

He had his second shoulder surgery in 2009, followed by more prescription opioids.

Then, in 2011, he had his cervical spine fused at C5–6–7, followed by, you guessed it — more opiates, and two weeks out of surgery, still in a neck brace, he slipped and fell down a muddy embankment.

He has never been the same.

And the doctors were more than happy to keep him doped up. In fact, his prescribing physician spent five years in prison for his illegal prescribing practices — which ended in the death of several of his patients.

But, by the time we met in 2012, the damage had already been done for my husband — he was a chronic pain patient and a prescribed opiate addict.

Not Your Traditional Proposal

The night my husband proposed to me started in the ER. Having a bad pain episode, he ended up in the emergency room at 7 p.m. getting an injection of Toradol to help reduce inflammation.

Once I became a fiance and not a mere girlfriend, I began asking questions. I needed to know exactly what we were up against.

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Kristina Etter

Co-Founder and Publisher @ CannabisTech.com | Freelance Creator @ Kristina-Etter.com | Soon-to-Be *Traveling* Content Creator | Corporate America Refugee