Opioid management of pain: The impact of the prescription opioid abuse epidemic

Sherri Rauenzahn, Egidio Del Fabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose of review The greater emphasis on pain control over the last decade has been accompanied by increased opioid prescriptions and an epidemic of opioid abuse. This review examines the financial, regulatory, and clinical practice impact of the epidemic, the factors contributing to its growth, and strategies that may counter this public health crisis. Recent findings Despite the call for urgent practice change and the introduction of new initiatives such as electronic prescription monitoring and additional education programs for providers and patients, the evidence for improved outcomes are limited. There are also concerns that some patients may suffer from underprescribing as an unintended consequence of more stringent state and federal regulations. There is consensus that some form of universal precautions should be adopted for all patients, including those being treated for cancer-related pain, in order to better identify and manage those at risk of opioid abuse. Summary The opioid prescription abuse epidemic has precipitated calls for increased regulation. Clinicians can improve patient care and diminish opioid abuse by identifying patient risk factors, increasing vigilance and structure for those at risk, and providing interdisciplinary care for any patients coping in a maladaptive manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer pain
  • Management of chemical coping
  • Opioid abuse epidemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid management of pain: The impact of the prescription opioid abuse epidemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this