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CDC offers new recommendations for opioids

Decision checklist included on agency website

March 23, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Atlanta — In response to the government's increased focus on the opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention March 15 unveiled new recommendations for prescribing opioid medications.

The new recommendations, the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States, 2016, were designed to help primary care providers, who account for "nearly half of all opioid prescriptions," according to the CDC.

Dr. Moore
While the focus of the new guidelines was designed to assist primary care givers who treat patients with chronic pain, Dr. Paul Moore, a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, praised the CDC expert panel for recognizing that long-term opioid abuse often begins with acute pain.  

"For dental practitioners, the importance of these recommendations should be carefully considered," said Dr. Moore, who also holds a doctorate in pharmacology and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. "Every year, millions of adolescents receive their first introduction to opioids following the extraction of their third molars. Many of these young adults may have never received these centrally-acting analgesics before in their lives. We have a special responsibility to counsel them about their dangers and educate them about their safe use of opioids when taken for acute postoperative pain.

"The CDC guidelines provide some guidance for prescribing opioids for acute pain management, understanding that some acute pain patients may continue to be taking opioids well beyond the expected period of postoperative pain," added Dr. Moore.

The ADA encourages dentists to talk to their patients about the dangers of using opioid painkillers for nonmedical purposes. In addition, the ADA offers free continuing education courses to members and nonmembers alike that cover the latest techniques for recognizing when a patient may be seeking opioids for nonmedical purposes, and how to briefly counsel and refer those patients for appropriate substance abuse treatment.

For more information about the new recommendations, CDC has developed user-friendly materials to assist providers with implementing the recommendations, including a decision checklist. These materials, as well as information for patients, are available here.

For more information about opioids, including upcoming webinars and subscriber tips, visit