Massachusetts Medical Society: Managing Pain Without Overusing Opioids

Managing Pain Without Overusing Opioids

Managing Pain Without Overusing Opioids

The use of prescription opioids in the US has risen rapidly and actually quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. While opioid analgesics are widely prescribed for chronic non-cancer conditions, the evidence base supporting such a vastly expanded use is limited. As opioid prescriptions have risen, so, too have rates of opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion, to their current 'epidemic' levels.

The primary goal of this educational program is to address the increase in opioid prescribing by reducing the number of people inappropriately started on opioids, tapering and discontinuing opioids in patients who are not achieving functional goals, have serious side effects, or exhibit problematic behavior as well as appropriately screening and monitoring patients who require chronic opioid therapy.

This course was developed and jointly provided by Alosa Health  ( ). The Independent Drug Information Service (IDIS) is supported by the PACE Program of the Department of Aging of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe acute pain management, focusing on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and non-pharmacologic approaches, using opioids only when acute pain is severe and then only for a short duration.
  • Use pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic alternatives to opioids first, resorting to chronic opioid therapy only for severe pain when other alternatives are inadequate.
  • Integrate patient screenings for risk of abuse or misuse before initiating opioid therapy, and periodically during treatment; counsel patients about opioid side effects, safe storage and disposal
  • Specify clear functional goals and realistic expectations as part of a comprehensive pain management plan when prescribing opioids.
  • Assess patient progress toward functional goals, tapering and discontinuing opioids whenever possible, and particularly in patients who have severe side effects or exhibit problematic behavior.

Course Fees:
MMS Member Physicians: Free
Nonmember Physicians: Free  
Allied Health Professionals:  Free

Format:  Text & Graphics

CME Credit:   3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Accreditation Statement for Joint Providership
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and
policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint 
providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Alosa Foundation. The 
Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for 

AMA Credit Designation Statement  
The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this enduring material for a maximum of 3.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management credit, including 3 credits in effective pain management and prescribing of controlled substances.

National Commission on Certification of Physicians Assistant (NCCPA).

Physician Assistants may claim a maximum of 3.00  Category 1 credits for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

A score of 70% or higher is required to receive AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™.

Activity Term
Original Released Date: April 30, 2015
Review Date: October 30, 2016
Termination Date: April 30, 2018

System requirements:

Windows, XP, Vista, 7, 8
Mac OSX 10.6 higher
Most modern browsers including:
Firefox 18.0+
Chrome 26+
Safari 5+
Flash player  is required for some Online CME courses.

iOS devices beginning with OS version 5 or higher (includes, iPhone, ipad and iTouch devices)
Android devices including tablets and phones.
Windows RT and tablets on Windows 8 are also supported.

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