full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Austin Eubanks: What surviving the Columbine shooting taught me about pain

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Do you remember where you were on June 12th, 2016? A few of you might, but I'm betting the vast majority probably don't. On June 12th, 2016, a lone gunman walked into Pulse Nightclub, killing 46 people in the dleiasdet mass shooting by a single gnamun in U.S. history. Now let's go back about a ddeace. How about August 29th, 2005. Do you remember where you were? We've got a few heads nodding out there. That was Hurricane Katrina. Over 1,800 dead in the costliest natural disaster ever to hit the North acarmein continent. Now let's go back another few years and go for 100 percent rnoiegtiocn. Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? Everybody's head ndondig now. The September 11th attacks left over 3,000 dead in the worst toserirrt atcatk in U.S. history. Do you remember how you felt? Were you cfenousd? Afraid? Did you feel sick? Were you vlurenbale? Every time this happens, we're becoming more and more desensitized. We feqlunetry see news coverage of mass shootings, natural disasters that result in eoonmrus loss of life, terrorist aactkts, and then we change the channel to watch something more friendly. This is the society that we live in today, but the impact of these traumatic events are no less serious on those who are directly affected, and now the impact of emotional pain on our society is more pmtlrbeiaoc than ever. Do you rememebr where you were on April 20th, 1999? Two students wlkaed into Columbine High School armed with snughots, semi-automatic rifles, and a bevy of homemade explosives, kililng 12 students and a teacher, in what was, at the time, the worst high soohcl shonitog in U.S. history. I remember where I was. I had just walked into the library with my best friend in order to meet others preparing to go to lunch. Moments later, a teacher ran through the same doors we'd just entered yelling for everyone to get under the tables; that somebody had a gun. I remember how I felt. I was confused. I was afraid. I felt sick. And I was vulnerable. And just minutes later, I was pyinlag dead underneath a table next to a pool of blood. I had just been shot, and I had witnessed my best friend murdered right in front of me as we were hledudd together waiting for help to come. I was broken. I was in sohck, and I was in pain. But my understanding of pain that day was nothing like my unnaednsdritg of pain today. What's the first thing you think of when you think of pain? Is it a broken arm? Headache? sepnraid aklne? Maybe a gunshot wound? Those are the things that I used to associate with pain, and they're pretty in line with the medical definition of pain: A variably unpleasant sensation associated with actual or potential tissue damage and mediated by specific nerve fibers to the brain where its conscious appreciation may be modified by various factors. Do you notice anything missing from that definition? Do you see any mention of the emotional components of pain? Me neither. In 1996, the American Pain Society introduced the phrase, "Pain is the fifth vital sign," meaning that when you walked into an emergency room, the initial assessment of your cotiodinn was based on five data points: pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, boold pressure, and pain. This was brought about by a cultural movement that was adamant that we were under-treating pain. And ptinaet satisfaction surveys were put in place in order to track the outcome and effectiveness of this new implementation. And what better way to ptorome these new policies than to tie psichyian and hospital compensation to patient satisfaction? A recent survey by the itdunsry group Physicians Practice reports that three out of ten doctors are paid bnsueos based upon patient satisfaction surveys, and hospitals with better scores receive bigger payments from insurers. Naturally, administrators and physicians beagn to support this new meenvomt with the goal being to get everyone's pain to zero on the scale. That was the mark. The ethical dilemma ieiatdlmmey became, "Do I issue this person narcotics in order to keep them happy, or deny them, and potentially hurt my caeooimtnspn, the revenue of the hospital, or at wrost, open myself up to a grievance for under-treating pain that could ptoltlnaeiy result in the loss of my job?" I have experience with pain. Less than an hour after scrambling out the back door of the Columbine High School larriby, I was medicated on a varteiy of substances that were intended to sedate and to relieve pain. I was 17 years old and I'd never dnark a beer or smoked weed, much less anything harder. I had no idea of what these medications were even supposed to do. All I knew at age 17 was that a lot of highly educated people had prescribed me medications that were intended to make me feel better and they were working, only not in the fashion that they were intended. Now if you only remember one thing from my talk today, let it be this: Opioids are pflnduoory more effective at relieving the symptoms of emotional pain than they are at relieving the symptoms of physical pain. I often think back to my pain that day and if I were to rate it on the pain scale, my physical pain would've been a three or a four, and that was likely the rneposse I offered when I was asked. But my emotional pain was an absolute ten. I was in aogny beyond comprehension. But that was never asked; it was never talked about. Acute physical pain ends relatively quick; complex emotional pain does not. My phcaiysl pain had subsided in just a matter of days but my emotional pain was just as dinitbteailg as it was lying in the hospital bed that day, so I continued taking the medication that was prescribed for my pain. I was addicted before I even knew what was happening. A recent survey by the American Society of atdicdoin mdiecnie reports that 86 percent of heroin users began by taking prescription opioids. And in 2012 alone, over 259 million opiiod prescriptions were flelid in the U.S. That is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. I very quickly began drug-seeking in order to soothe my emotional pain and it was only a mteatr of months before the prescriptions had turned to alcohol, marijuana, and elicit narcotics. And as addiction always does, over the course of the next decade, my tolerance continued to biuld, my life continued to be unmanageable, and my emotional pain stayed unresolved. It was like I had pressed a psaue button on my emotional growth. I was mngnaiag my pain in the only way I knew how, and I wasn't alone. I believe that emotional pain is what's driving the addiction epidemic. Think of someone you know who struggles with addiction. I'm betting you can point to an element of unaddressed or unresolved emotional pain in that porsen. Now think of a time you were in intense eomnoaitl pain and how desperate you were to stop it. What if you had been offered an immediate route to feeling better. Imagine for a moment breaking your leg in an avalanche. Now that injury alone can be a fairly tmiuatarc experience, but it's manageable. With short term pain management, most would make a full recovery. But now imagine sustaining that exact same irnujy, only this time your close friend was skiing next to you, and they didn't make it out of the avalanche alive. It seems so crystal cealr to me that there would be two very different pain management strategies for what would appear to be an identical physiological injury, only there's not. Emotional pain is toxic, it's pervasive, and soeticy has programmed us to avoid it. We medicate with alcohol and durgs, sex and pornography, even television and technology, and oftentimes, we're doing this without even kiwnong it. Our society is literally being deinfed by this pain. And now, more and more people are dying every month because they're looking for solace in the only way they know how. It's the way they were programmed. Everyone has pain; it's unavoidable. And I have a simple summary for how we got here. We bilut a society that is filled with emotional pain and taumra. We comibend that with a healthcare system that's intended to primarily treat physiological somympts, and then we put Big Pharma in the driver's seat, ameid directly at profits with regulations that are easy to manipulate. And now we're in the midst of what the former Surgeon General called the worst public hlaeth crsiis the nation has ever seen - two years ago. It has since worsened, and what was then the addiction epidemic is now commonly referred to as the addiction pandemic. And here's a gpslime of where we're at today. The New York Times reported last motnh that overdose deaths rose by 19 peencrt in 2016, and preliminary data for 2017 shows that this trend is only worsening. We've now far surpassed the worst yeras ever recorded for deaths cesaud by guns, AIDS, and automobile accidents. This data is appalling to me. There are people in our society today who will still witre this off under the guise of, "They're just a bunch of junkies." Well, I'm here to tell you ... they're not. They're fherats, mothers, brothers, sisters, they're children, sometimes not even in their tenes. They're people just like you and me, trying to cope in the only way they know how, and they're dying by the thousands every single month at an ever-increasing rate. Addiction is the only disease where we commonly wait until it's at the highest levles of acuity before we try to do something about it. And by then, it's often too late. We have to start sooner. We have to practice early interventions. We have to etcadue youth with real world methods. We have to stop thinking that people can be rehabilitated in thirty days, and then we have to improve aelisccsibity to long-term taetmnret. We have to eliminate the sgmtia associated with addiction and most importantly, we have to rorefm a broken hercaalhte system that is slowly coming to terms with the fact that they are responsible for this pandemic. (Applause) (crehes) It took me over a decade of active addiction and many more in rcoveery before I finally lnreaed the difference between feeling better and actually being better. Because I had to learn to lean into the pain. I had to quit looking for the fast road to relief. I had to do the emotional work that needed to be done no matter how much it hurt. And after multiple attempts at short-term treatment, I finally found a willingness to do whatever it took, and I stayed in a continuum of care for 14 consecutive months in oderr to figure it out. I had to go through the saegts of grief that I should've been going through at age 17, at age 29. But I refused to keep rnnuing, and it worked. (Applause) Fortunately for us, there is such a thing as post-traumatic growth, and you're witnessing that on the sagte before you tadoy. Post-traumatic growth is defined as the positive psychological change that can occur in a person after they've eripneeecxd a traumatic life eevnt. It implies that by finding a way to endure through significant suffering, you can actually have meaningful development of personal character and elevate yourself to a hegihr lveel of functioning. But achieving post-traumatic growth requires that you lean into the pain. You can't run from it. You can't medicate it. So now I have a calgehlne for you. Take an audit of your current level of emotional pain. Do you have grief or heartache that you aren't dealing with? Has something traumatic happened to you that you haven't healed from? If so, take a step towards addressing this pain. Call a friend, talk to a therapist, just speak your truth to a stranger. Take one small step to shed light on this darkness because I've seen what darkness can do. I've seen it in hospital rmoos when just one more didn't end up the way it was intended. I've seen it in jails with people who were born addicted and never had a chcane to learn anything else. I've seen it at funerals for children who died before they ever had a chance to truly live. And I've seen it from underneath a table in the library of my high school. I want to leave you all with something that I wish I had known at age 17. Whoever you are, whatever you're going through, in whatever way you might be going through it, just know this: in order to heal it, you have to feel it. We're not going to solve the addiction pandemic orehgvint but we will make progress when people srtat to utrsendnad the difference between physical and emotional pain, and then csohoe to do something about it. In recovery, we often say, you keep what you have by gvinig it away. Find the cugorae to lean into the pain, and you can be a frcoe in helping others. Thank you. (Applause)

Open Cloze

Do you remember where you were on June 12th, 2016? A few of you might, but I'm betting the vast majority probably don't. On June 12th, 2016, a lone gunman walked into Pulse Nightclub, killing 46 people in the _________ mass shooting by a single ______ in U.S. history. Now let's go back about a ______. How about August 29th, 2005. Do you remember where you were? We've got a few heads nodding out there. That was Hurricane Katrina. Over 1,800 dead in the costliest natural disaster ever to hit the North ________ continent. Now let's go back another few years and go for 100 percent ___________. Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? Everybody's head _______ now. The September 11th attacks left over 3,000 dead in the worst _________ ______ in U.S. history. Do you remember how you felt? Were you ________? Afraid? Did you feel sick? Were you __________? Every time this happens, we're becoming more and more desensitized. We __________ see news coverage of mass shootings, natural disasters that result in ________ loss of life, terrorist _______, and then we change the channel to watch something more friendly. This is the society that we live in today, but the impact of these traumatic events are no less serious on those who are directly affected, and now the impact of emotional pain on our society is more ___________ than ever. Do you ________ where you were on April 20th, 1999? Two students ______ into Columbine High School armed with ________, semi-automatic rifles, and a bevy of homemade explosives, _______ 12 students and a teacher, in what was, at the time, the worst high ______ ________ in U.S. history. I remember where I was. I had just walked into the library with my best friend in order to meet others preparing to go to lunch. Moments later, a teacher ran through the same doors we'd just entered yelling for everyone to get under the tables; that somebody had a gun. I remember how I felt. I was confused. I was afraid. I felt sick. And I was vulnerable. And just minutes later, I was _______ dead underneath a table next to a pool of blood. I had just been shot, and I had witnessed my best friend murdered right in front of me as we were _______ together waiting for help to come. I was broken. I was in _____, and I was in pain. But my understanding of pain that day was nothing like my _____________ of pain today. What's the first thing you think of when you think of pain? Is it a broken arm? Headache? ________ _____? Maybe a gunshot wound? Those are the things that I used to associate with pain, and they're pretty in line with the medical definition of pain: A variably unpleasant sensation associated with actual or potential tissue damage and mediated by specific nerve fibers to the brain where its conscious appreciation may be modified by various factors. Do you notice anything missing from that definition? Do you see any mention of the emotional components of pain? Me neither. In 1996, the American Pain Society introduced the phrase, "Pain is the fifth vital sign," meaning that when you walked into an emergency room, the initial assessment of your _________ was based on five data points: pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, _____ pressure, and pain. This was brought about by a cultural movement that was adamant that we were under-treating pain. And _______ satisfaction surveys were put in place in order to track the outcome and effectiveness of this new implementation. And what better way to _______ these new policies than to tie _________ and hospital compensation to patient satisfaction? A recent survey by the ________ group Physicians Practice reports that three out of ten doctors are paid _______ based upon patient satisfaction surveys, and hospitals with better scores receive bigger payments from insurers. Naturally, administrators and physicians _____ to support this new ________ with the goal being to get everyone's pain to zero on the scale. That was the mark. The ethical dilemma ___________ became, "Do I issue this person narcotics in order to keep them happy, or deny them, and potentially hurt my ____________, the revenue of the hospital, or at _____, open myself up to a grievance for under-treating pain that could ___________ result in the loss of my job?" I have experience with pain. Less than an hour after scrambling out the back door of the Columbine High School _______, I was medicated on a _______ of substances that were intended to sedate and to relieve pain. I was 17 years old and I'd never _____ a beer or smoked weed, much less anything harder. I had no idea of what these medications were even supposed to do. All I knew at age 17 was that a lot of highly educated people had prescribed me medications that were intended to make me feel better and they were working, only not in the fashion that they were intended. Now if you only remember one thing from my talk today, let it be this: Opioids are __________ more effective at relieving the symptoms of emotional pain than they are at relieving the symptoms of physical pain. I often think back to my pain that day and if I were to rate it on the pain scale, my physical pain would've been a three or a four, and that was likely the ________ I offered when I was asked. But my emotional pain was an absolute ten. I was in _____ beyond comprehension. But that was never asked; it was never talked about. Acute physical pain ends relatively quick; complex emotional pain does not. My ________ pain had subsided in just a matter of days but my emotional pain was just as ____________ as it was lying in the hospital bed that day, so I continued taking the medication that was prescribed for my pain. I was addicted before I even knew what was happening. A recent survey by the American Society of _________ ________ reports that 86 percent of heroin users began by taking prescription opioids. And in 2012 alone, over 259 million ______ prescriptions were ______ in the U.S. That is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. I very quickly began drug-seeking in order to soothe my emotional pain and it was only a ______ of months before the prescriptions had turned to alcohol, marijuana, and elicit narcotics. And as addiction always does, over the course of the next decade, my tolerance continued to _____, my life continued to be unmanageable, and my emotional pain stayed unresolved. It was like I had pressed a _____ button on my emotional growth. I was ________ my pain in the only way I knew how, and I wasn't alone. I believe that emotional pain is what's driving the addiction epidemic. Think of someone you know who struggles with addiction. I'm betting you can point to an element of unaddressed or unresolved emotional pain in that ______. Now think of a time you were in intense _________ pain and how desperate you were to stop it. What if you had been offered an immediate route to feeling better. Imagine for a moment breaking your leg in an avalanche. Now that injury alone can be a fairly _________ experience, but it's manageable. With short term pain management, most would make a full recovery. But now imagine sustaining that exact same ______, only this time your close friend was skiing next to you, and they didn't make it out of the avalanche alive. It seems so crystal _____ to me that there would be two very different pain management strategies for what would appear to be an identical physiological injury, only there's not. Emotional pain is toxic, it's pervasive, and _______ has programmed us to avoid it. We medicate with alcohol and _____, sex and pornography, even television and technology, and oftentimes, we're doing this without even _______ it. Our society is literally being _______ by this pain. And now, more and more people are dying every month because they're looking for solace in the only way they know how. It's the way they were programmed. Everyone has pain; it's unavoidable. And I have a simple summary for how we got here. We _____ a society that is filled with emotional pain and ______. We ________ that with a healthcare system that's intended to primarily treat physiological ________, and then we put Big Pharma in the driver's seat, _____ directly at profits with regulations that are easy to manipulate. And now we're in the midst of what the former Surgeon General called the worst public ______ ______ the nation has ever seen - two years ago. It has since worsened, and what was then the addiction epidemic is now commonly referred to as the addiction pandemic. And here's a _______ of where we're at today. The New York Times reported last _____ that overdose deaths rose by 19 _______ in 2016, and preliminary data for 2017 shows that this trend is only worsening. We've now far surpassed the worst _____ ever recorded for deaths ______ by guns, AIDS, and automobile accidents. This data is appalling to me. There are people in our society today who will still _____ this off under the guise of, "They're just a bunch of junkies." Well, I'm here to tell you ... they're not. They're _______, mothers, brothers, sisters, they're children, sometimes not even in their _____. They're people just like you and me, trying to cope in the only way they know how, and they're dying by the thousands every single month at an ever-increasing rate. Addiction is the only disease where we commonly wait until it's at the highest ______ of acuity before we try to do something about it. And by then, it's often too late. We have to start sooner. We have to practice early interventions. We have to _______ youth with real world methods. We have to stop thinking that people can be rehabilitated in thirty days, and then we have to improve _____________ to long-term _________. We have to eliminate the ______ associated with addiction and most importantly, we have to ______ a broken __________ system that is slowly coming to terms with the fact that they are responsible for this pandemic. (Applause) (______) It took me over a decade of active addiction and many more in ________ before I finally _______ the difference between feeling better and actually being better. Because I had to learn to lean into the pain. I had to quit looking for the fast road to relief. I had to do the emotional work that needed to be done no matter how much it hurt. And after multiple attempts at short-term treatment, I finally found a willingness to do whatever it took, and I stayed in a continuum of care for 14 consecutive months in _____ to figure it out. I had to go through the ______ of grief that I should've been going through at age 17, at age 29. But I refused to keep _______, and it worked. (Applause) Fortunately for us, there is such a thing as post-traumatic growth, and you're witnessing that on the _____ before you _____. Post-traumatic growth is defined as the positive psychological change that can occur in a person after they've ___________ a traumatic life _____. It implies that by finding a way to endure through significant suffering, you can actually have meaningful development of personal character and elevate yourself to a ______ _____ of functioning. But achieving post-traumatic growth requires that you lean into the pain. You can't run from it. You can't medicate it. So now I have a _________ for you. Take an audit of your current level of emotional pain. Do you have grief or heartache that you aren't dealing with? Has something traumatic happened to you that you haven't healed from? If so, take a step towards addressing this pain. Call a friend, talk to a therapist, just speak your truth to a stranger. Take one small step to shed light on this darkness because I've seen what darkness can do. I've seen it in hospital _____ when just one more didn't end up the way it was intended. I've seen it in jails with people who were born addicted and never had a ______ to learn anything else. I've seen it at funerals for children who died before they ever had a chance to truly live. And I've seen it from underneath a table in the library of my high school. I want to leave you all with something that I wish I had known at age 17. Whoever you are, whatever you're going through, in whatever way you might be going through it, just know this: in order to heal it, you have to feel it. We're not going to solve the addiction pandemic _________ but we will make progress when people _____ to __________ the difference between physical and emotional pain, and then ______ to do something about it. In recovery, we often say, you keep what you have by ______ it away. Find the _______ to lean into the pain, and you can be a _____ in helping others. Thank you. (Applause)

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Original Text

Do you remember where you were on June 12th, 2016? A few of you might, but I'm betting the vast majority probably don't. On June 12th, 2016, a lone gunman walked into Pulse Nightclub, killing 46 people in the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. Now let's go back about a decade. How about August 29th, 2005. Do you remember where you were? We've got a few heads nodding out there. That was Hurricane Katrina. Over 1,800 dead in the costliest natural disaster ever to hit the North American continent. Now let's go back another few years and go for 100 percent recognition. Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001? Everybody's head nodding now. The September 11th attacks left over 3,000 dead in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Do you remember how you felt? Were you confused? Afraid? Did you feel sick? Were you vulnerable? Every time this happens, we're becoming more and more desensitized. We frequently see news coverage of mass shootings, natural disasters that result in enormous loss of life, terrorist attacks, and then we change the channel to watch something more friendly. This is the society that we live in today, but the impact of these traumatic events are no less serious on those who are directly affected, and now the impact of emotional pain on our society is more problematic than ever. Do you remember where you were on April 20th, 1999? Two students walked into Columbine High School armed with shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, and a bevy of homemade explosives, killing 12 students and a teacher, in what was, at the time, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history. I remember where I was. I had just walked into the library with my best friend in order to meet others preparing to go to lunch. Moments later, a teacher ran through the same doors we'd just entered yelling for everyone to get under the tables; that somebody had a gun. I remember how I felt. I was confused. I was afraid. I felt sick. And I was vulnerable. And just minutes later, I was playing dead underneath a table next to a pool of blood. I had just been shot, and I had witnessed my best friend murdered right in front of me as we were huddled together waiting for help to come. I was broken. I was in shock, and I was in pain. But my understanding of pain that day was nothing like my understanding of pain today. What's the first thing you think of when you think of pain? Is it a broken arm? Headache? Sprained ankle? Maybe a gunshot wound? Those are the things that I used to associate with pain, and they're pretty in line with the medical definition of pain: A variably unpleasant sensation associated with actual or potential tissue damage and mediated by specific nerve fibers to the brain where its conscious appreciation may be modified by various factors. Do you notice anything missing from that definition? Do you see any mention of the emotional components of pain? Me neither. In 1996, the American Pain Society introduced the phrase, "Pain is the fifth vital sign," meaning that when you walked into an emergency room, the initial assessment of your condition was based on five data points: pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, blood pressure, and pain. This was brought about by a cultural movement that was adamant that we were under-treating pain. And patient satisfaction surveys were put in place in order to track the outcome and effectiveness of this new implementation. And what better way to promote these new policies than to tie physician and hospital compensation to patient satisfaction? A recent survey by the industry group Physicians Practice reports that three out of ten doctors are paid bonuses based upon patient satisfaction surveys, and hospitals with better scores receive bigger payments from insurers. Naturally, administrators and physicians began to support this new movement with the goal being to get everyone's pain to zero on the scale. That was the mark. The ethical dilemma immediately became, "Do I issue this person narcotics in order to keep them happy, or deny them, and potentially hurt my compensation, the revenue of the hospital, or at worst, open myself up to a grievance for under-treating pain that could potentially result in the loss of my job?" I have experience with pain. Less than an hour after scrambling out the back door of the Columbine High School library, I was medicated on a variety of substances that were intended to sedate and to relieve pain. I was 17 years old and I'd never drank a beer or smoked weed, much less anything harder. I had no idea of what these medications were even supposed to do. All I knew at age 17 was that a lot of highly educated people had prescribed me medications that were intended to make me feel better and they were working, only not in the fashion that they were intended. Now if you only remember one thing from my talk today, let it be this: Opioids are profoundly more effective at relieving the symptoms of emotional pain than they are at relieving the symptoms of physical pain. I often think back to my pain that day and if I were to rate it on the pain scale, my physical pain would've been a three or a four, and that was likely the response I offered when I was asked. But my emotional pain was an absolute ten. I was in agony beyond comprehension. But that was never asked; it was never talked about. Acute physical pain ends relatively quick; complex emotional pain does not. My physical pain had subsided in just a matter of days but my emotional pain was just as debilitating as it was lying in the hospital bed that day, so I continued taking the medication that was prescribed for my pain. I was addicted before I even knew what was happening. A recent survey by the American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that 86 percent of heroin users began by taking prescription opioids. And in 2012 alone, over 259 million opioid prescriptions were filled in the U.S. That is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills. I very quickly began drug-seeking in order to soothe my emotional pain and it was only a matter of months before the prescriptions had turned to alcohol, marijuana, and elicit narcotics. And as addiction always does, over the course of the next decade, my tolerance continued to build, my life continued to be unmanageable, and my emotional pain stayed unresolved. It was like I had pressed a pause button on my emotional growth. I was managing my pain in the only way I knew how, and I wasn't alone. I believe that emotional pain is what's driving the addiction epidemic. Think of someone you know who struggles with addiction. I'm betting you can point to an element of unaddressed or unresolved emotional pain in that person. Now think of a time you were in intense emotional pain and how desperate you were to stop it. What if you had been offered an immediate route to feeling better. Imagine for a moment breaking your leg in an avalanche. Now that injury alone can be a fairly traumatic experience, but it's manageable. With short term pain management, most would make a full recovery. But now imagine sustaining that exact same injury, only this time your close friend was skiing next to you, and they didn't make it out of the avalanche alive. It seems so crystal clear to me that there would be two very different pain management strategies for what would appear to be an identical physiological injury, only there's not. Emotional pain is toxic, it's pervasive, and society has programmed us to avoid it. We medicate with alcohol and drugs, sex and pornography, even television and technology, and oftentimes, we're doing this without even knowing it. Our society is literally being defined by this pain. And now, more and more people are dying every month because they're looking for solace in the only way they know how. It's the way they were programmed. Everyone has pain; it's unavoidable. And I have a simple summary for how we got here. We built a society that is filled with emotional pain and trauma. We combined that with a healthcare system that's intended to primarily treat physiological symptoms, and then we put Big Pharma in the driver's seat, aimed directly at profits with regulations that are easy to manipulate. And now we're in the midst of what the former Surgeon General called the worst public health crisis the nation has ever seen - two years ago. It has since worsened, and what was then the addiction epidemic is now commonly referred to as the addiction pandemic. And here's a glimpse of where we're at today. The New York Times reported last month that overdose deaths rose by 19 percent in 2016, and preliminary data for 2017 shows that this trend is only worsening. We've now far surpassed the worst years ever recorded for deaths caused by guns, AIDS, and automobile accidents. This data is appalling to me. There are people in our society today who will still write this off under the guise of, "They're just a bunch of junkies." Well, I'm here to tell you ... they're not. They're fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, they're children, sometimes not even in their teens. They're people just like you and me, trying to cope in the only way they know how, and they're dying by the thousands every single month at an ever-increasing rate. Addiction is the only disease where we commonly wait until it's at the highest levels of acuity before we try to do something about it. And by then, it's often too late. We have to start sooner. We have to practice early interventions. We have to educate youth with real world methods. We have to stop thinking that people can be rehabilitated in thirty days, and then we have to improve accessibility to long-term treatment. We have to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction and most importantly, we have to reform a broken healthcare system that is slowly coming to terms with the fact that they are responsible for this pandemic. (Applause) (Cheers) It took me over a decade of active addiction and many more in recovery before I finally learned the difference between feeling better and actually being better. Because I had to learn to lean into the pain. I had to quit looking for the fast road to relief. I had to do the emotional work that needed to be done no matter how much it hurt. And after multiple attempts at short-term treatment, I finally found a willingness to do whatever it took, and I stayed in a continuum of care for 14 consecutive months in order to figure it out. I had to go through the stages of grief that I should've been going through at age 17, at age 29. But I refused to keep running, and it worked. (Applause) Fortunately for us, there is such a thing as post-traumatic growth, and you're witnessing that on the stage before you today. Post-traumatic growth is defined as the positive psychological change that can occur in a person after they've experienced a traumatic life event. It implies that by finding a way to endure through significant suffering, you can actually have meaningful development of personal character and elevate yourself to a higher level of functioning. But achieving post-traumatic growth requires that you lean into the pain. You can't run from it. You can't medicate it. So now I have a challenge for you. Take an audit of your current level of emotional pain. Do you have grief or heartache that you aren't dealing with? Has something traumatic happened to you that you haven't healed from? If so, take a step towards addressing this pain. Call a friend, talk to a therapist, just speak your truth to a stranger. Take one small step to shed light on this darkness because I've seen what darkness can do. I've seen it in hospital rooms when just one more didn't end up the way it was intended. I've seen it in jails with people who were born addicted and never had a chance to learn anything else. I've seen it at funerals for children who died before they ever had a chance to truly live. And I've seen it from underneath a table in the library of my high school. I want to leave you all with something that I wish I had known at age 17. Whoever you are, whatever you're going through, in whatever way you might be going through it, just know this: in order to heal it, you have to feel it. We're not going to solve the addiction pandemic overnight but we will make progress when people start to understand the difference between physical and emotional pain, and then choose to do something about it. In recovery, we often say, you keep what you have by giving it away. Find the courage to lean into the pain, and you can be a force in helping others. Thank you. (Applause)

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
emotional pain 13
high school 4
physical pain 4
columbine high 2
patient satisfaction 2
addiction epidemic 2
healthcare system 2
addiction pandemic 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
columbine high school 2

Important Words

  1. absolute
  2. accessibility
  3. accidents
  4. achieving
  5. active
  6. actual
  7. acuity
  8. acute
  9. adamant
  10. addicted
  11. addiction
  12. addressing
  13. administrators
  14. adult
  15. affected
  16. afraid
  17. age
  18. agony
  19. aids
  20. aimed
  21. alcohol
  22. alive
  23. american
  24. ankle
  25. appalling
  26. applause
  27. appreciation
  28. april
  29. arm
  30. armed
  31. asked
  32. assessment
  33. associate
  34. attack
  35. attacks
  36. attempts
  37. audit
  38. august
  39. automobile
  40. avalanche
  41. avoid
  42. based
  43. bed
  44. beer
  45. began
  46. betting
  47. bevy
  48. big
  49. bigger
  50. blood
  51. bonuses
  52. born
  53. bottle
  54. brain
  55. breaking
  56. broken
  57. brothers
  58. brought
  59. build
  60. built
  61. bunch
  62. button
  63. call
  64. called
  65. care
  66. caused
  67. challenge
  68. chance
  69. change
  70. channel
  71. character
  72. cheers
  73. children
  74. choose
  75. clear
  76. close
  77. columbine
  78. combined
  79. coming
  80. commonly
  81. compensation
  82. complex
  83. components
  84. comprehension
  85. condition
  86. confused
  87. conscious
  88. consecutive
  89. continent
  90. continued
  91. continuum
  92. cope
  93. costliest
  94. courage
  95. coverage
  96. crisis
  97. crystal
  98. cultural
  99. current
  100. damage
  101. darkness
  102. data
  103. day
  104. days
  105. dead
  106. deadliest
  107. dealing
  108. deaths
  109. debilitating
  110. decade
  111. defined
  112. definition
  113. deny
  114. desensitized
  115. desperate
  116. development
  117. died
  118. difference
  119. dilemma
  120. disaster
  121. disasters
  122. disease
  123. doctors
  124. door
  125. doors
  126. drank
  127. driving
  128. drugs
  129. dying
  130. early
  131. easy
  132. educate
  133. educated
  134. effective
  135. effectiveness
  136. element
  137. elevate
  138. elicit
  139. eliminate
  140. emergency
  141. emotional
  142. ends
  143. endure
  144. enormous
  145. entered
  146. epidemic
  147. ethical
  148. event
  149. events
  150. exact
  151. experience
  152. experienced
  153. explosives
  154. fact
  155. factors
  156. fashion
  157. fast
  158. fathers
  159. feel
  160. feeling
  161. felt
  162. fibers
  163. figure
  164. filled
  165. finally
  166. find
  167. finding
  168. force
  169. fortunately
  170. frequently
  171. friend
  172. friendly
  173. front
  174. full
  175. functioning
  176. funerals
  177. general
  178. give
  179. giving
  180. glimpse
  181. goal
  182. grief
  183. grievance
  184. group
  185. growth
  186. guise
  187. gun
  188. gunman
  189. guns
  190. gunshot
  191. happened
  192. happening
  193. happy
  194. harder
  195. head
  196. headache
  197. heads
  198. heal
  199. healed
  200. health
  201. healthcare
  202. heartache
  203. helping
  204. heroin
  205. high
  206. higher
  207. highest
  208. highly
  209. history
  210. hit
  211. homemade
  212. hospital
  213. hospitals
  214. hour
  215. huddled
  216. hurricane
  217. hurt
  218. idea
  219. identical
  220. imagine
  221. immediately
  222. impact
  223. implementation
  224. implies
  225. importantly
  226. improve
  227. industry
  228. initial
  229. injury
  230. insurers
  231. intended
  232. intense
  233. interventions
  234. introduced
  235. issue
  236. jails
  237. job
  238. june
  239. junkies
  240. katrina
  241. killing
  242. knew
  243. knowing
  244. late
  245. lean
  246. learn
  247. learned
  248. leave
  249. left
  250. leg
  251. level
  252. levels
  253. library
  254. life
  255. light
  256. line
  257. literally
  258. live
  259. lone
  260. loss
  261. lot
  262. lunch
  263. lying
  264. majority
  265. manageable
  266. management
  267. managing
  268. manipulate
  269. marijuana
  270. mark
  271. mass
  272. matter
  273. meaning
  274. meaningful
  275. mediated
  276. medical
  277. medicate
  278. medicated
  279. medication
  280. medications
  281. medicine
  282. meet
  283. mention
  284. methods
  285. midst
  286. million
  287. minutes
  288. missing
  289. modified
  290. moment
  291. moments
  292. month
  293. months
  294. mothers
  295. movement
  296. multiple
  297. murdered
  298. narcotics
  299. nation
  300. natural
  301. naturally
  302. needed
  303. nerve
  304. news
  305. nightclub
  306. nodding
  307. north
  308. notice
  309. occur
  310. offered
  311. oftentimes
  312. open
  313. opioid
  314. opioids
  315. order
  316. outcome
  317. overdose
  318. overnight
  319. paid
  320. pain
  321. pandemic
  322. patient
  323. pause
  324. payments
  325. people
  326. percent
  327. person
  328. personal
  329. pervasive
  330. pharma
  331. phrase
  332. physical
  333. physician
  334. physicians
  335. physiological
  336. pills
  337. place
  338. playing
  339. point
  340. policies
  341. pool
  342. pornography
  343. positive
  344. potential
  345. potentially
  346. practice
  347. preliminary
  348. preparing
  349. prescribed
  350. prescription
  351. prescriptions
  352. pressed
  353. pressure
  354. pretty
  355. primarily
  356. problematic
  357. profits
  358. profoundly
  359. programmed
  360. progress
  361. promote
  362. psychological
  363. public
  364. pulse
  365. put
  366. quickly
  367. quit
  368. ran
  369. rate
  370. real
  371. receive
  372. recognition
  373. recorded
  374. recovery
  375. referred
  376. reform
  377. refused
  378. regulations
  379. rehabilitated
  380. relief
  381. relieve
  382. relieving
  383. remember
  384. reported
  385. reports
  386. requires
  387. respiration
  388. response
  389. responsible
  390. result
  391. revenue
  392. rifles
  393. road
  394. room
  395. rooms
  396. rose
  397. route
  398. run
  399. running
  400. satisfaction
  401. scale
  402. school
  403. scores
  404. scrambling
  405. seat
  406. sedate
  407. sensation
  408. september
  409. sex
  410. shed
  411. shock
  412. shooting
  413. shootings
  414. short
  415. shot
  416. shotguns
  417. shows
  418. sick
  419. sign
  420. significant
  421. simple
  422. single
  423. sisters
  424. skiing
  425. slowly
  426. small
  427. smoked
  428. society
  429. solace
  430. solve
  431. sooner
  432. soothe
  433. speak
  434. specific
  435. sprained
  436. stage
  437. stages
  438. start
  439. stayed
  440. step
  441. stigma
  442. stop
  443. stranger
  444. strategies
  445. struggles
  446. students
  447. subsided
  448. substances
  449. suffering
  450. summary
  451. support
  452. supposed
  453. surgeon
  454. surpassed
  455. survey
  456. surveys
  457. sustaining
  458. symptoms
  459. system
  460. table
  461. talk
  462. talked
  463. teacher
  464. technology
  465. teens
  466. television
  467. temperature
  468. ten
  469. term
  470. terms
  471. terrorist
  472. therapist
  473. thinking
  474. thousands
  475. tie
  476. time
  477. times
  478. tissue
  479. today
  480. tolerance
  481. toxic
  482. track
  483. trauma
  484. traumatic
  485. treat
  486. treatment
  487. trend
  488. truth
  489. turned
  490. unaddressed
  491. unavoidable
  492. understand
  493. understanding
  494. unmanageable
  495. unpleasant
  496. unresolved
  497. users
  498. variably
  499. variety
  500. vast
  501. vital
  502. vulnerable
  503. wait
  504. waiting
  505. walked
  506. watch
  507. weed
  508. willingness
  509. witnessed
  510. witnessing
  511. work
  512. worked
  513. working
  514. world
  515. worsened
  516. worsening
  517. worst
  518. wound
  519. write
  520. years
  521. yelling
  522. york
  523. youth