Do you live in Benton, Lincoln, or Linn County?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the White House have both done a lot to advocate for better opioid prescription guidelines. They’re calling on health care providers to step up and make changes to improve the lives of people with chronic non-cancer pain, and help end the opioid epidemic.

One of PainWise’s awareness campaign goals is to provide physicians and other health care providers with the tools they need to do their part in this effort.

Redefining Pain

In the video below, Dr. Kevin Cuccaro, Pain Specialist & Consultant, defines pain and introduces three components of the pain triangle to encourage people to think about pain and pain treatment differently.

How Health Care Providers Can Help

Chronic non-cancer pain is a real problem that your patients must deal with, but there is a better way than simply relying on opioid prescriptions to treat their pain. Physicians and health care providers can make a difference by following safe prescription guidelines, exploring alternative treatments, and attending Continuing Medical Education events to stay up to date on the most effective techniques for treating chronic non-cancer pain.

Safe Prescription Guidelines for Opioids to Treat Chronic Pain

While organizational prescription guidelines vary, in March 2016, the CDC released updated national guidelines for opioid prescribing.

This guideline provides recommendations for primary care clinicians who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. The guideline addresses 1) when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; 2) opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and 3) assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use.

See the CDC guidelines here.

State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Another tool that health care providers can use is State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, which enable physicians to verify their patients opioid prescription and pharmaceutical data.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

“State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) have emerged as a key strategy for addressing the misuse of prescription opioids and thus preventing opioid overdoses and deaths. Specifically, prescribers can check their state’s PDMP database to determine whether a patient is filling the prescriptions provided and/or obtaining prescriptions for the same or a similar drug from multiple prescribers.”

If you’re located in Oregon, you can learn more about our local state PDMP at

Use Motivational Interviewing Techniques

For patients who are dependent on opioids, motivational interviewing, when combined with other treatments, can make a big difference in the effectiveness of their therapy.

“Motivational Interviewing is a clinical approach that helps people with mental health and substance use disorders and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and asthma make positive behavioral changes to support better health. The approach upholds four principles— expressing empathy and avoiding arguing, developing discrepancy, rolling with resistance, and supporting self-efficacy (client’s belief s/he can successfully make a change).” — SAMHSA

Many healthcare organizations are now combining motivational interviewing with other treatment options. Learn more about motivational interviewing at these articles:

Attend Continuing Medical Education Events

At no cost to you, you may attend an educational event that will make you better at treating chronic non-cancer pain. In the Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit, SAMHSA writes:

“Federally funded Continuing Medical Education courses are available to providers at no charge at (a series of courses funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).”

Check with your local organization for other opportunities to continue your medical education. Staying current on effective techniques for treating chronic non-cancer pain and dealing with opioid dependence and substance abuse in your patients could save a life.

To watch video presentations that were given at the "Being PainWise: Strategies for Effective Pain Management" Conference, click here to view them on the event page.

Read SAMHSA’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit

If you haven’t already, it is worth reading SAMHSA’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit in full. Click here to get the kit (free PDF download).

Help Patients Find Oregon Pain Management Classes

PainWise – First Steps is a free six week series which helps patients living with chronic pain learn tools to manage their pain successfully. The program is a great opportunity for patients, and we would like your help making sure patients have access to the information. These free classes are offered in Benton, Lincoln, and Linn counties. Space is limited and registration is required. To register, patients may call 541-768-6811 or email

To request PainWise – First Steps brochures or flyers, please contact the Samaritan Health Services Health Education Department at 541-768-6811 or You can also download electronic copies of the most recent flyer.

More information on specific classes, as well as other upcoming events, is available on the PainWise Classes & Events calendar.