Opioids for Pain Treatment in Persons with Addiction

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By Seddon R. Savage, MD, MS
Medical Director, Chronic Pain and Recovery Center, Silver Hill Hospital, New Canaan, CT
Director, Dartmouth Center on Addiction Recovery and Education, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Module Description: From time to time over the course of a lifetime, most individuals, including those with addictive disorders, experience serious pain in association with accidents, injuries or surgeries; in association with cancer or other progressive illnesses; and/or in association with chronic, non-terminal illnesses.  While diverse approaches to pain management may be effective in different contexts, opioids remain the most powerful pain relieving medications available and are often required for relief of serious pain; however their use may pose an elevated risk of harm for persons with addictive disorders.  This module explores the complex nature of pain, describes its potential interfaces with addiction, and considers safe and effective approaches to the use of opioids when they are indicated in the treatment of pain in persons with addictive disorders.

Note: This online module is not designated for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.