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Heroes Of The Opioid Crisis: “Let’s change the prescribing limit nationally to a three-day supply” With fitness leader Gabby Reece

If I had the power to influence legislation, three laws I would like introduced would be to change the opioid dosage guidelines, changing the prescribing limit to a three-day supply nationally and reimburse for non-opioid options from insurance companies. I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabby Reece. Gabby Reece is a fitness leader, former professional […]



If I had the power to influence legislation, three laws I would like introduced would be to change the opioid dosage guidelines, changing the prescribing limit to a three-day supply nationally and reimburse for non-opioid options from insurance companies.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabby Reece. Gabby Reece is a fitness leader, former professional volleyball player, health advocate, author and mother of three girls. Together with her husband, surfing legend, Laird Hamilton, Gabby is an avid proponent of empowering people to take responsibility for their own health. Gabby’s commanding presence, passion and fitness expertise makes her a popular leader in the world of health and wellness.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit of your backstory?

Of course. As a professional athlete, the wear-and-tear I put on my body was excessive, to say the least. This led to me needing knee replacement surgery a few years back. I waited almost 15 years to have my knee replaced, even though my doctor told me I had the knee of an 80-year-old. I had made the personal choice not to rely on opioids after the surgery. I didn’t want to rely on medication to “mask” the pain, so the first two days after surgery in the hospital they gave me a low-dose medication combined with an anti-inflammatory. But, once at home, I pretty much had to “grin and bear” the pain.

Is there a particular story or incident that inspired you to get involved in your work with opioid addiction?

When I needed to have surgery, I didn’t know there were other pain management options I could have asked for, including non-opioids. I decided to work with the Choices Matter campaign because I want people to feel empowered to speak with their doctor prior to surgery and develop a plan that’s personal for their recovery. What I know now, is that there are certain non-opioid medications that can be administered before, during, and after surgery to minimize, or even eliminate, the need for opioids altogether. I encourage people to be advocates for their own health and visit PlanAgainstPain.com to download a discussion guide that can help them navigate the discussion with their doctors about what options are available.

If I ever have to get my other knee replaced, or a different type of surgery, I’ll definitely be more prepared to have an open conversation with my doctor about non-opioid options for pain management. I’ll also know what to expect in recovery and hopefully learn some tips from this experience with my knee replacement.

Can you explain what brought us to this place? Where did this epidemic come from?

This epidemic doesn’t discriminate — it can happen to anyone, anyplace, anytime. A recent national survey found that one in 10 people became addicted to or dependent on opioids after surgery — that’s really startling. In 2016, overprescribing of opioids after surgery resulted in 3.3 billion unused opioids flooding into communities, making them available for diversion and abuse. We need to be more diligent in helping to educate people about their options and giving them the tools they need to speak up and ask for alternatives.

Can you describe how your work is making an impact battling this epidemic?

The Choices Matter campaign is designed to educate and activate patients to feel empowered to proactively discuss postsurgical pain management, including non-opioid options, with their doctors.

Our goal is to arm patients with the knowledge they need to ask the right questions during pre-surgery conversations and, hopefully, limit the need for opioids after surgery.

Wow! Without sharing real names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your initiative?

I’ve heard many inspiring stories through my work with Choices Matter, especially from women and mothers who were given opioids after surgery. Did you know that women are 40% more likely to become persistent opioid users than men?

It seems that most people I talk to are grateful to hear that there are non-opioid options available to manage pain after surgery, and that there are tools and resources to make discussions with their doctors even easier.

Can you share something about your work makes you most proud? Is there a particular story or incident that you found most uplifting?

I think what I am grateful for about my work is that a lot of it expresses some of my personal beliefs and things I want to invest time in. To have the opportunity to combine your life passion of health and encouraging others to be healthy with your work is an amazing gift. As far as an example goes, the easy one that comes to mind is when I teach my community class and there are people through time, that either get over injuries or reach personal goals by losing weight, etc., it feels pretty good. To watch others be successful, and work hard towards a goal, it’s selfishly a wonderful feeling.

Can you share three things that the community and society can do to help you address the root of this problem? Can you give some examples?

A lot is already being done in communities across the country but there is always more we can do.

· First, patients and caregivers can visit PlanAgainstPain.com to download a patient discussion guide. This guide can help facilitate conversations with doctors prior to surgery about non-opioid options to manage pain.

· I would encourage someone thinking about having any type of surgery to talk with their doctor and develop a plan that’s personal for their recovery. We’re the number one advocates for our health so asking questions and developing a plan is key, especially when it comes to managing our recoveries.

· Additionally, those who have opioids in their house should dispose of them at the proper locations. A recent report found that nearly 90% of patients with leftover opioid pills didn’t properly dispose of them, with many keeping them in their homes and some sharing them with family or friends.

If you had the power to influence legislation, which three laws would you like to see introduced that might help you in your work?

If I had the power to influence legislation, three laws I would like introduced would be to change the opioid dosage guidelines, changing the prescribing limit to a three-day supply nationally and reimburse for non-opioid options from insurance companies.

I know that this is not easy work. What keeps you going?

One of the things that I appreciate about my area of work is it does allow me to work with companies that are trying to spread messages that encourage people to be their own health advocates. This is beyond fitness and eating well. I love working with the Choices Matter campaign to end the tragic opioid epidemic in this country. I want to be able to share with people that there are alternatives to managing pain after elective surgeries other than opioids. This is just one example of a project that I’m proud to be a part of since it’s an epidemic that effects all of us.

Do you have hope that one day this leading cause of death can be defeated?

Absolutely, I believe that if we all work together we can combat this issue.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think leadership has to do with, first and foremost, being a living example for yourself. All great leaders that I know have shown more through personal conduct and example. Great leaders tend to see the greatness in others, that they don’t even know exist within them and then have the ability to pull that greatness out. Lastly, a great leader is not someone who thinks that they know it all but is someone that continues to be a student so that they can learn and expand as well.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Don’t take anything personal. Everything that’s worth it, takes hard work. Do your best to surround yourself with people that elevate you as well as you elevate. If you’re able to accomplish anything you are simply a steward of those gifts and not to buy into the nonsense that surrounds you and lastly do your best to stay focused on what is genuinely important and make sure that the ego is not driving the ship.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Well, I don’t know how much influence I have, but the instrument I think I am is I should try to inspire people to take better care of themselves which I think makes it easier to not only love yourself but love others, and contribute to the community and world that you live in. I think it would be unrealistic for me to go beyond that and make that the starting point.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Never let your accomplishments be greater than your dreams.” This is an unknown soldier I believe.

For me the essence of this is it’s great to accomplish things as a way of challenging or expressing yourself, but that in fact is over, so keep growing and expanding and living for today and what you can continue to build versus living off what you have already done. It makes you less attached to accomplishments and more inspired to continue to develop new things within yourself. I also appreciate this idea because we really are not our accomplishments, so we can release them quicker.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

I have read a lot of his books and I would appreciate breaking bread with Joe Dispenza or Ruth Badar Ginsburg.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @GabbyReece and on Facebook at @OfficialGabbyReece.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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