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CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

This information is for historic and reference purposes only.  Content has not been updated since the last reviewed date at the bottom of this page.
Clinician writing on prescription pad
COCA partnered with CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) and the University of Washington to present a 2016 COCA Call series about CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.


There are seven webinars in the COCA Call series. Each webinar was recorded and can now be viewed on demand. Free continuing education is available for each webinar.





June 22, 2016

Overview of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain


July 27, 2016

Nonopioid Treatments


August 3, 2016

Assessing Benefits and Harms of Opioid Therapy


August 17, 2016

Dosing and Titration of Opioids


November 29, 2016

Assessment and Evidence-based Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder


December 6, 2016

Risk Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Opioid Overdoses


December 13, 2016

Effectively Communicating with Patients about Opioid Therapy


The amount of opioids prescribed and sold in the United States has nearly quadrupled since 1999, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain provides recommendations for safer and more effective prescribing of opioids for chronic pain in patients 18 years and older in outpatient settings outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. This COCA Call series covered when and how opioids should be initiated for chronic pain, how to assess risk and address harms of opioid use, and when and how opioids should be discontinued. Presenters from the University of Washington provided insight into the application of the Guideline in clinical settings.


This series used a data-driven approach to help clinicians choose the most effective pain treatment options and improve the safety of opioid prescribing for chronic pain. Case-based content was used to demonstrate how clinicians in primary care settings can incorporate and apply the guideline’s 12 recommendations when using opioids to treat chronic pain.


  • CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
    • Deborah Dowell, MD, MPH
    • Tamara Haegerich, PhD
  • University of Washington
    • David J. Tauben, MD, FACP
    • James P. Robinson, MD, PhD
    • Jane C. Ballantyne, MD, FRCA
    • Mark D. Sullivan, MD, PhD
    • Joseph O. Merrill, MD, MPH

Additional Resources