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For prescribers and pharmacists


Continuing education on opioids, pain management and addiction

    New Alaska legislation requires a minimum of two hours of continuing education in pain management, opioid use and addiction (unless you do not hold a valid DEA registration). We’ve curated list of several accredited online courses that can be used to fulfill the new CME/CNE requirement.

What can you do to keep patients safe?

    Treat pain carefully

    Patients with chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management. Opioids can be part of
    that pain management plan, but they have serious risks, including overdose and addiction.

    The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain promotes three key principles:

      • Non-opioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative care and end-of-life care.
      • To reduce the risk of overdose and opioid use disorder, the lowest possible effective dosage should be prescribed.
      • Providers should prescribe cautiously and monitor patients closely.
    Use the PDMP every time

    Use the Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (AKPDMP) is a patient safety tool, used to make prescribing decisions based on patient’s histories. This program is designed to improve patient care and foster the goal of reducing misuse and diversion of controlled substances. AKPDMP is used to monitor Schedule II -V controlled substances dispensed in Alaska.

    Learn more about legislation related the program, tutorials on how to use it, and more, at the PDMP page sponsored by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

    Have a discussion
      • Consider using this Alaska Acute Pain Treatment Discussion Tool to discuss the management of acute pain with your patient. Learn more about this tool and how to use it in this letter to prescribers​.
      • People of every age, gender and social status have become addicted to opioids. It’s important to talk about the risk factors with everyone.
      • When making the decision to prescribe opioids rather than using other therapy for pain, ask about previous drug use, history of substance abuse disorder or overdose, benzodiazepine use, sleep-disordered breathing, and other co-existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSI.
      • Always focus on functional goals and improvement, and set the criteria for stopping or continuing use. Talk to patients about how opioid therapy will be discontinued if its benefits do not outweigh the risks.
      • Go low dose by using the lowest dosage on the product’s labeling. Match the duration of use with the next scheduled reassessment.
      • Educate your patient about safe use, storage and proper disposal of opioids.
    Monitor and reassess

    Set an initial reassessment within one to four weeks, and monitor the patient for signs of misuse of opioids at every assessment.

      • Only continue opioid treatment after confirming clinically meaningful improvements
      • Evaluate risk of harm or misuse
      • If risk is elevated, taper dose
      • Seek opioid misuse treatment for the patient as needed

    Resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can provide advice on treatment options:

    Prescribe naloxone

    Learn how co-prescribing naloxone can help prevent overdose. Naloxone is also available through Project Hope.

    Help patients who are dependent and/or addicted

    The Division of Behavioral Health maintains a page about treatment options in Alaska.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s MAT webpage offers more information on medication-assisted treatment, like this Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder Pocket Guide.