Overdose Epidemic

Save lives from overdose by following the evidence on what works

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

The U.S. drug-overdose and death epidemic continues to kill more than 100,000 people a year and demands immediate and collective action.

“As a nation, we have to do better,” AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, noted in a Leadership Viewpoints column last year. “As physicians, we must show the leadership necessary to make a difference.”

Half the dues, all the AMA benefits!

AMA membership offers unique access to savings and resources tailored to enrich the personal and professional lives of physicians, residents and medical students.

At the individual level, such leadership can include becoming familiar with evidence-based, practical insights to address the opioid-overdose epidemic. The AMA has created a seven-episode podcast series that serves up just that, with each episode being enduring material that is designated by the AMA for PRA Category 1 Credit™️. 

The “Opioid Overdose Podcast Series” is part of the AMA Ed Hub™️, an online learning platform that brings together high-quality CME, maintenance of certification, and educational content from trusted sources, all in one place—with activities relevant to you, automated credit tracking, and reporting for some states and specialty boards. 

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation, and explore the individual episodes in the series below.

  1. Opioid Prescribing and Appropriate Pain Management

    1. As with the other episodes in the series, this entry is hosted by Bobby Mukkamala, MD, board-certified otolaryngologist, AMA trustee, and chair of the AMA Task Force on Substance Use and Pain Care. His guest is Steven Stanos, DO, a specialist in pain medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and executive committee member of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
    2. They noted that there are many different treatment options for pain management, including prescribing opioids when clinically appropriate. The two physicians discussed considerations for determining the most appropriate treatment options for a patient with pain.
  2. Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

    1. Opioid-use disorder is a chronic disease that affects many and can be effectively treated. Evidence-based treatment for opioid-use disorder (OUD), as well as harm-reduction initiatives, can help patients maintain treatment and mitigate risks of relapse.
    2. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, MD, MPH, who is in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, joined Dr. Mukkamala to discuss medications for OUD as well as OUD treatment considerations and standards of care. They also discussed barriers that can stand in the way of those seeking treatment.
  3. Opioid Overdose Prevention

    1. In this episode, Nabarun Dasgupta, PhD, MPH, a senior scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Dr. Mukkamala discussed overdose-prevention strategies, including the benefits of naloxone for opioid-related overdose prevention. They also detailed ways to reduce stigma and bias related to overdose prevention.
  4. Disparities in Access to Medication for Opioid Use Disorder

    1. OUD is a treatable medical condition. However, inequities in access to medications for OUD continue to be a challenge. Betty-Ann Bryce is a senior policy analyst in the Regional and Rural Unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and formerly served as special adviser for rural affairs in the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
    2. She and Dr. Mukkamala examined inequities in access for people with disabilities, racial and ethnic variations to access, and geographic maldistribution of relevant providers and services. Addressing access to medications for OUD is a critical piece in combating the opioid overdose epidemic.
  5. Opioid Use Disorder and Pregnancy

    1. Illicit or nonprescribed opioid use in pregnancy has escalated dramatically in recent years, paralleling increases observed in the general population amid the opioid epidemic. As a result, maternal mortality studies in several states have identified substance use as a major risk factor for pregnancy-associated deaths. Physicians are being called to take an active role in recognizing and addressing opioid misuse and untreated OUD in pregnancy.
    2. In this episode, Dr. Mukkamala and guest Cara Poland, MD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Michigan State University, discussed the nuances of how to screen, assess and care for pregnant people with OUD—including the intricacies of mandatory reporting.
    3. Separately, learn more about a recently published AMA-Manatt Health report on the overdose crisis in pregnant and postpartum people.
  6. Opioid Utilization in Hospice and Palliative Care

    1. Addressing the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of dying patients includes pain management. But how have increasing concerns and policies that target opioid misuse affected pain management options? In this episode, Dr. Mukkamala and guest Chad Kollas, MD, detailed how balanced opioid policies and maintaining medically legitimate access to controlled pain medications are possible.
    2. Dr. Kollas, who has served as the medical director for palliative and supportive medicine at Orlando Cancer Institute in Florida for over 20 years, also discussed the ethical concerns and common misconceptions of pain management for dying patients with OUD.
  7. Opioid Use: A Prevention Approach

    1. OUD is a treatable, chronic medical condition, but one-size-fits-all policies and detoxification as a primary treatment for OUD are often ineffective and, at worst, cause harm. Family physician Catherine Livingston, MD, MPH, medical director at HealthShare of Oregon, joined Dr. Mukkamala to discuss applying a prevention framework to guide action and policy through prevention, treatment and harm reduction.
    2. The prevention framework uses data-driven processes that consider predisposing risk factors and social determinants of health in addition to evidence-based prevention strategies. It offers physicians a powerful tool to combat OUD and the opioid-overdose epidemic.

In addition to this informative podcast series, the AMA Ed Hub also features a CME course to help physicians and other health professionals complete the one-time, eight-hour training requirement issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration on treating and managing patients with opioid or other substance-use disorders. AMA Ed Hub also offers a broader CME course on opioid therapy and pain management.

The AMA believes that science, evidence and compassion must continue to guide patient care and policy change as the nation’s opioid epidemic evolves into a more dangerous and complicated illicit drug overdose epidemic. Learn more at the AMA’s End the Epidemic website.