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A break up letter to Opioids

By Hayley Leake Pain awareness 20 Sep 2017

Dear Opioids,


How are you? I’ve noticed you’ve been receiving a fair amount of flack lately. I’ve read about your recent crisis with over-prescription, addiction, and even death. It must be horrible to be associated with such things, especially considering you never intended for any of it. Don’t let it get you down, I know there is a special side to you. I have some news to share, but first I want to reflect on our relationship.


I first met you on a winter ski trip. There was a bluebird sky and an amazing amount of snow for the Australian slopes. But a big tumble landed me with a nasty elbow fracture, and suddenly you were there. We had never met but I’d heard about you. For four days while I waited in hospital for my operation you visited me throughout the day and night and took my pain away. Sometimes you dressed as Codeine, other times Endone or Tramadol. You helped me lay still to keep the swelling down, to sleep and prepare myself for the times ahead.



When the day finally came for the operation, you really stepped up.  As soon as I woke you were there holding my hand, wearing your most serious outfit yet – you called it Morphine. Every five minutes I would give my hand a squeeze and feel you there supporting me. Helping me so that even after the surgeon had cut through my skin and drilled metal into my bones, I could still function without pain. I could eat, drink, use the bathroom, walk around. The surgeon told me I would have to lean on you for a while, and he was right, I could have never have gotten through it without you.


In the following two weeks you remained a pivotal part of my life. During this time you came to me in a more relaxed way, as Targin. You helped me get back to daily tasks and start my rehabilitation exercises despite the swelling and the bruising. When I woke in the middle of the night in pain, you helped me fall back to sleep. ‘How do you do it?’ I would ask, and you would whisper something about dopamine into my ear as I nodded off.


But truth be told, since the very start of this relationship I’ve been warned about you. They told me you’re a good guy, and you mean well, but a long-term relationship is a really bad idea. That you might be dangerous for my health and my heart.  That I would become too dependent on you – and I don’t want that.


So, Opioids, while this short relationship has been amazing, and you have helped me so much, unfortunately I think it is time for us to part. You’ll probably see a little bit of me over the next week but then I’ll be gone. And like any break up, I will make sure that in your place I surround myself with other things that make me feel good – a bath, music, good movies and maybe a tub of ice cream. I think I’ll get my friend SIM to visit and stay with me a while. She can take it from here.


So be well, and thank you for the time we had together.

With love,



  1. John Quintner

    “Opium … the Creator himself seems to prescribe, for we often see the scarlet poppy growing in the cornfields, as if it were foreseen that wherever there is hunger to be fed there must also be pain to be soothed.”

    Oliver Wendell-Holmes [1809-1894]. General Remarks on the Practice of Medicine, Ch. XV.

    1. Ben Johansen

      Thank You for the break up letter, I have been on them for 8 months following back surgery and in have now at a stage where i can start using less. I very much love how you wrote about pain killers thank you again. Regards Ben

  2. susanne bendel

    Absolutely love it.

  3. davidbutler0noi

    Thanks Hayley – what a special and successful relationship! I loved John Quintner’s quote from Oliver Wendell–Holmes too. This group of drugs is rightly in the WHO list of essential evidence based medicine and most of us exist with a societal safety blanket, knowing there are safe and powerful pain relieving drugs around should we ever need them. Of course, we sapiens stuff up our relationships all too often.


  4. NOI Events Ltd

    Really nicely told Hayley. Your friend SIM sounds like much better company x

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