Pain Management and Opioid Abuse

Evaluation and Treatment Tools

The AAFP has created a toolkit to help members standardize evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, and mitigate the risk of opioid abuse.

Challenges of Pain Management

Chronic pain management is a public health concern with significant increases in the use of opioids for pain relief. There is a corresponding growth in the number of opioids prescribed in the U.S. and the overdose from those drugs.1,2,3 Family physicians and other primary care providers play a vital role in balancing patients’ pain management needs with the risk of drug misuse and abuse.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is dedicated to finding solutions to the crisis of pain management and opioid abuse. We recognize that long-acting and extended-release opioids are powerful drugs that require oversight, but these drugs can be controlled without unduly limiting their proper use. Creating additional prescribing barriers for primary care physicians would limit patient access when there is a legitimate need for pain relief.

Treating Patients with Chronic Pain

Patients with chronic pain will often initially consult their family physician for treatment. Treatment may include subspecialists, but it is often the family physician’s role to coordinate and manage care, including the use of opioid pain relievers. The AAFP views the goal of pain management to be primarily improvement and maintenance of function. We urge family physicians to individualize treatment based on a review of a patient’s potential risks, benefits, side effects, and functional assessments, and to monitor ongoing therapy accordingly.

The AAFP will continue to be an active participant in issues concerning pain management and opioid abuse through advocacy, collaboration, and education. Use the resources on this page and on our healthy interventions page to guide your patients through pain management issues.

Evaluation and Treatment Tools

The AAFP has created a toolkit to help members standardize evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, and mitigate the risk of opioid abuse.

CDC Training For Providers

Apply strategies in your practice to reduce the risk of opioid abuse with this training series based on the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.(www.cdc.gov)

Healthy Interventions Resources

Valuable information and tools to help you address pain and opioid abuse issues.


Review Related Articles

AAFP's Dr. Wergin on Pain Management

Past AAFP president and current board chair, Robert Wergin, MD, FAAFP, was featured in a 2016 New York Times article about the complexities and challenges family physicians face when treating patients with chronic pain.