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Health Professionals Resources

Medical professionals play a key role in the proper use of opioids and use disorder treatment. Learn more about the available resources.

Safe Opioid Prescribing

National Pain Strategy: A Comprehensive Population Health-Level Strategy for Pain (PDF - 1.05MB)
The National Pain Strategy outlines the federal government’s first coordinated plan for reducing the burden of chronic pain that affects millions of Americans. Developed by a diverse team of experts from around the nation, the National Pain Strategy is a roadmap toward achieving a system of care in which all people receive appropriate, high quality and evidence-based care for pain.

CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)has developed and published guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing) outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

Common Elements in Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
The CDC partnered with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to review existing opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain and identify common elements.

Minimizing the Misuse of Prescription Opioids in Patients with Chronic Nonmalignant Pain (PDF - 497 KB)
This educational module is an introduction for health professions students to a standardized approach to the management of patients with chronic pain that integrates techniques for the prevention and detection of misuse of prescription opioids.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are state-run electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. Learn more about PDMPs and find related resources.

National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention (ADE Action Plan)
The ADE Action Plan identifies a strategy to reduce patient harms from adverse drug events (ADEs) resulting from three key drug classes – opioids, anticoagulants, and diabetes agents. One of the broader goals of the ADE Action Plan is to engage leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to implement evidence-based guidelines and engage in strategies that will help to prevent ADEs.

Pathways to Safer Opioid Use
This training uses the principles of health literacy and a multimodal, team-based approach to promote the appropriate, safe, and effective use of opioids to manage chronic pain. The training is based on recommendations from the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event (ADE) Prevention, which identifies opioids as a major contributor to ADEs.

Opioid & Pain Management CMEs
NIDA presents a resource for medical professionals to find continued medical education courses (CMEs) related to opioid prescription and pain management.

Safe Opioid Prescribing
The Indian Health Service (IHS) presents information comparing different prescription opioids, summarizing the principles of safe prescribing, and outlining opioid therapy exit strategies.

FDA Works to Reduce Risk of Opioid Pain Relievers
For extended-release (ER) and long-acting (LA) opioids, drug makers must provide a program to ensure that health care professionals are trained on how to properly prescribe these medicine and how to instruct their patients about using them safely.

Questions and Answers: FDA approves a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for Extended-Release and Long-Acting (ER/LA) Opioid Analgesics
This REMS requires drug makers to provide training for health care professionals who prescribe ER/LA opioids on proper prescribing practices and to distribute educational materials to prescribers and patients on the safe use of these powerful pain medications.

Linking PDMPs to Health IT: Using Health IT to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse
The “Enhancing Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Using Health Information Technology” Project is managed by ONC, SAMHSA, CDC, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The project seeks to demonstrate that improved access to PDMP data through the use of health IT can reduce prescription drug misuse and overdose in the United States.

PDMPConnect: Making Connections with PDMPs
This resource from ONC seeks to inform and unite the community of physicians, providers, pharmacists, and health IT organizations and professionals in one forum to discuss and share ideas about enhancing access to patient prescription drug information stored in PDMPs using health IT technologies at the point of care.

New Opioid Prescribing Policies Not Likely to Have Caused Increase in Heroin Use

A scientific review in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that federal and state policies aimed at curbing inappropriate prescribing of opioids have not directly led to the recent increases in heroin use across the nation.

NIDA Editorial Urges Safer Opioid Prescribing Practices for Pregnant Women

An editorial from Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the NIDA, in the British Medical Journal, highlighting recent research on the on the risks of prescribing opioids to pregnant women and their exposed infants, which underscores the important of following good opioid prescription practices.

Recognizing Opioid Abuse

Why Physicians Should Screen their Patients (Director Video)
NIDA presents a video catalog for medical professionals on why doctors should screen their patients, managing pain patients, safe prescribing, and more.

Risk Factors for Prescription Drug Abuse & Overdose
Research shows that some risk factors make people particularly vulnerable to prescription drug abuse and overdose. Learn about risk factors and related trends.

Submit an Opioid Treatment Exception Request
SAMHSA presents instructions for physicians on how to request exceptions to the federal standards for opioid treatment.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
The SBIRT case-based educational activity teaches an intervention strategy with the aim to identify people who may be at risk of substance misuse or abuse. The early identification process can inform providers and guide them to appropriate referrals to treatment. This free course gives participants the added benefit of receiving Continuing Medical Education (CME) or Continuing Education (CE) credit when the course is successfully completed.

Treating Opioid Abuse

Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment Programs
SAMHSA presents updated guidelines for the operation of opioid treatment programs (OTPs). This guidance covers patient assessment, treatment planning, medication-assisted treatment (methadone and buprenorphine), overdose and relapse prevention, and recovery care.

SAMHSA Releases Revised Guidelines for Opioid Treatment Program
SAMHSA published guidelines to help prescribers interpret the laws for how medications such as methadone and buprenorphine can be used. Read more about the guidelines and how they are organized.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescribing

Narcotic Treatment Programs Best Practice Guideline
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) presents a guideline on best practices for each aspect of narcotic treatment programs. Topics include ordering medication, dispensing medication, recordkeeping, and security measures.

Clinical Use of Extended-Release Injectable Naltrexone in the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder: A Brief Guide
SAMHSA offers guidance on the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with extended-release injectable naltrexone for the treatment of an opioid use disorder. This guidance covers assessing patients, initiating MAT, monitoring progress, and deciding when to end treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs: Inservice Training Based on TIP 43
SAMHSA provides a training program for substance abuse treatment counselors and other clinicians on medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Training covers basic principles, best practices, history, and regulation. Includes scripted modules and handouts.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs: KAP Keys for Clinicians Based on TIP 43
Based on treatment improvement protocol 43, SAMHSA offers clinicians information on medications for opioid use disorder treatment, including side effects, drug interactions, and take-home doses. This guidance discusses patient counseling, associated medical problems, hepatitis C evaluation, drug testing, and pregnant women.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs: Quick Guide for Clinicians Based on TIP 43
SAMHSA presents a quick guide for clinicians on using medication-assisted treatment in opioid treatment programs. This guide discusses screening, pharmacology of five medications, pharmacotherapy, phases of treatment, drug testing, patients with special needs, and administrative issues.

Pharmacologic Guidelines for Treating Individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Co-Occurring Opioid Use Disorders
SAMHSA offers guidelines for medication-assisted treatment for individuals, particularly veterans, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring opioid use disorders.

Webinar in Innovative Practices in MAT and Primary Care
This Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) webinar showcases two MAT approaches which integrate care for individuals with substance use disorders and regular medical care.

Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction Clinical Guidelines
This SAMHSA resource presents practice guidelines for physicians using buprenorphine therapy to treat opioid addiction. The guidelines provide protocols for medication-assisted treatment for short- and long-acting opioids and recommendations for baseline laboratory evaluations.

Clinical Guidelines for the Use of Buprenorphine in the Treatment of Opioid Addiction
Practice guidelines help physicians make decisions about using buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. This publication includes information on patient assessment, and protocols for opioid withdrawal and the treatment of pregnant women, teens, and polysubstance users.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on April 8, 2016
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