Opioid Safety: Balancing Benefits and Risks

Opioid analgesics are approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate or severe pain. However, individual patients differ greatly in clinical response to different opioid analgesics, and patient populations show widely variable response to the same opioid and dose. These response variations make opioid prescribing challenging. Further, the important role of opioid analgesics is broadly accepted in acute pain, cancer pain, and palliative and end-of-life care, but it is controversial for the management of chronic noncancer pain. Previous opioid prescribing guidelines have been critiqued for lacking a patient-centered approach and failing to emphasize individualization of therapy. This prompted the 2022 revision of the CDC's opioid prescribing guidelines, the draft of which is outlined in this course. Opioids are not a panacea for pain, nor are they safe and effective for every patient. However, they can be a useful tool, and knowledge of medical advances can give clinicians greater confidence to safely and effectively prescribe these drugs.

The purpose of this course is to provide clinicians who prescribe or distribute opioids with an appreciation for the complexities of opioid prescribing and the dual risks of litigation due to inadequate pain control and drug diversion or misuse in order to provide the best possible patient care and to prevent a growing social problem.


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Outline the types of pain and effective approaches to managing different pain types.
  2. Describe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  3. Identify behaviors that are indicative of opioid seeking, diversion, addiction, and/or misuse.
  4. Discuss federal and state laws pertaining to the prescription of controlled substances.
  5. Create a plan to properly educate patients and families regarding safe opioid use.
  6. Describe effects of, potential causes of, and approaches to minimize disparities in pain management.

Additional Information

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 5.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 5.00 ANCC
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Available Credit

  • 5.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 5.00 ANCC


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This course is offered through NetCE.

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