A few months ago, Douglas Scott, a property manager in Jacksonville, Fla., was taking large doses of narcotic drugs, or opioids, to deal with the pain of back and spine injuries from two recent car accidents.
The pills helped ease his pain, but they also caused him to withdraw from his wife, his two children and social life.
"Finally, my wife said, 'You do something about this or we're going to have to make some changes around here,'" said Mr. Scott, 43.
Today, Mr. Scott is no longer taking narcotics and feels better. Shortly after his wife's ultimatum, he entered a local clinic where patients are weaned off opioids and spend up to five weeks going through six hours of training each day in alternative pain management techniques such as physical therapy, relaxation exercises and behavior modification.
Mr. Scott's story highlights one patient's success. Yet it also underscores the difficulties that the Obama administration and public health officials face in reducing the widespread use of painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet. The use and abuse of the drugs has led to a national epidemic of overdose deaths, addiction and poor patient outcomes.