Medical Students Say Their Opioid Experiences Will Shape How They Prescribe

Matthew Braun, a first-year medical student at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash., says his personal history with opioids will help him care for patients. Jovelle Tamayo for NPR

When Matthew Braun gets out of medical school, he'll be able to prescribe opioids.

A decade ago, he was addicted to them.

"The first time I ever used an opioid, I felt the most confident and powerful I'd ever felt," Braun says. "So I said, 'This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.' "

Opioids took away his anxiety, his inhibitions, his depression. And they were easy to get.

"I just started breaking into houses," Braun says. "I found it amazing how trusting people were in leaving windows open and doors unlocked, and I found a lot of prescriptions."

Vicodin, OxyContin, tramadol. The drugs were everywhere. At the time, more than a decade ago, doctors and dentists were writing lots of prescriptions — even to Braun.