Safe Opioids


Fam Pract Manag. 2014 May-June;21(3):31.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

The Safe Opioids app provides resources and tools to help clinicians safely prescribe opioid medications for pain.

Source: Prescribers' Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies, a collaborative of national psychiatric, primary care, and nursing organizations

Platforms available: iOS and Android

Pertinence to primary care practice: Deaths from prescription opioid overdoses rose substantially in the United States over the past decade,1 and a majority of nonmedical users of prescription opioids receive them directly from physicians or from friends and family members with legal prescriptions.2 Family physicians and internists often prescribe opioids for patients with acute and chronic pain.

Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information: The app's content is derived from current expert consensus guidelines and was peer reviewed by several experts and specialty medical societies. It is not clear if or how the developers plan to update the app when guidelines are updated.

Cost: Free to all users

Ease of use: The app opens to a main menu with the options “Evaluate,” “Manage Use,” “Discontinue,” and “Resources.” Each submenu links to more specific information and tools. For example, the “Evaluate” submenu includes a pain assessment and documentation tool, links to state prescription drug monitoring programs, tips about urine drug screenings, tools to evaluate patients for substance abuse risk and depression, and sample treatment agreements. Users can email PDF versions of these documents to print later. The “Resources” submenu lists links to the web pages of national pain organizations, addiction medicine and mental health organizations, and relevant federal health agencies. I found the app easy to navigate, using “Back” and “Home” buttons at the top of the screen or submenu buttons at the bottom. The app does not work without an Internet connection.

Sponsors: The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided a grant to support development of this app and related projects.


Although we don't know if using this app improves outcomes for patients, it is a comprehensive and well-organized collection of resources to support appropriate opioid prescribing.


S – Source or developer of app

P – Platforms available

P – Pertinence to primary care practice

A – Authoritativeness/accuracy/currency of information

C – Cost

E – Ease of use

S – Sponsor(s)

About the Author

Dr. Lin, a member of the Family Practice Management Editorial Advisory Board and associate deputy editor for American Family Physician online, is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians Commission on Health of the Public and Science, associate professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and a family physician at MedStar Health in Washington, D.C.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.


1. Baumblatt JA, Wiedeman C, Dunn JR, Schaffner W, Paulozzi LJ, Jones TF. High-risk use by patients prescribed opioids for pain and its role in overdose deaths [published online ahead of print March 3, 2014]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12711.

2. Jones CM, Paulozzi LJ, Mack KA. Sources of prescription opioid pain relievers by frequency of past-year nonmedical use: United States, 2008–2011 [published online ahead of print March 3, 2014]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12809.


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