CDC Issues Updated Guidance for Prescribing Opioids

08 Nov, 2022 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their updated opioid prescribing guidelines for acute and chronic pain not related to cancer and end of life care, or sickle cell disease.  

In a press release earlier this month, the CDC indicated that the goal was to assist patients in receiving pain relief. “Patients with pain should receive compassionate, safe, and effective pain care. We want clinicians and patients to have the information they need to weigh the benefits of different approaches to pain care, with the goal of helping people reduce their pain and improve their quality of life,” said Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, DrPH, MPH, Acting Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The new 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline gives guidance for decision-making for whether to prescribe opioids for pain relief, selection of opioids and determination of dosage, duration of prescription and follow up protocol, and evaluation of risk and addressing the potential results of opioid use.

The CDC has not issued a specific guideline for patients tapering opioids since 2016. Included in the new guidelines is advice on tapering off opioids in an individualized patient-centered manner. The CDC advises maximizing the use of non-opioid treatments for pain, and addressing behavioral issues for those patients that are struggling to taper off opioids.

The CDC clearly advises not to discontinue opioids abruptly or rapidly reduce dosages from higher dosages, based on supporting evidence. The CDC acknowledges that clinical withdrawal symptoms may indicate the need for a slower taper rate, and state that in long-term cases a taper of 10 percent or less may be a better option.

Included in the new guidelines specifically for patients that have had acute pain for 1 to 3 months or chronic pain for more than 3 months, is a recommendation to create treatment goals for pain level and function, with clear consideration of how the opioids will be discontinued if the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

Evaluation of patients within 1 to 4 weeks of beginning opioid therapy is recommended to review benefits and risks of continuing. The CDC stresses the need to continually evaluate the risk, and to work with patients to educate and incorporate certain strategies such as reviewing potential interactions with other medications, and offering naloxone.

Additionally for those patients with use disorder, the CDC recommends treatment or arrangements for treatment with evidence-based medications. While the CDC states that opioid misuse has decreased, prescription opioids still remain the most commonly misused prescription drug in the U.S.

To read the full 100-page guideline, you can visit the CDC website.


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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