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Our Position on Opioids
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Our Position on Opioid Prescribing

Since it was founded in 1988, the mission of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management has been – and still is -- to improve the lives of people with pain by advancing a person-centered, integrative model of care. For some patients, access to opioid medications to manage their daily pain is necessary; for others, nonpharmacological methods alone provide sufficient relief; and, for many, it’s a combination of both. That is the very definition of the word “integrative:” “To form, coordinate, or blend into a unified whole.” Our organization unifies all clinicians and stands for treating each patient on an individualized basis using all appropriate treatment options – including the safe use of a variety of pharmacological treatments and evidence-based nonpharmacological treatments, as indicated for that patient.

The fact is, pain management isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each person’s pain experience is different which means each person must be treated differently, too. But the reality is, healthcare professionals often do not have adequate pain management training. Medical schools still only offer 9-11 hours of pain management education--not nearly enough time to teach them about safe opioid prescribing or all available treatment methods. On top of that, only a handful of states require pain management continuing education, so the likelihood of learning how to effectively manage pain after completing training is low.

That’s where we come in.

We are the world’s leading provider of continuing education about integrative pain management and all available treatment options, including the limited and safe use of opioids when necessary. It is unrealistic to think that simply restricting the use of opioids will solve the nation’s opioid misuse and overdose epidemics; it is equally or more important to ensure healthcare professionals have a sound understanding of how to provide quality pain care, have access to nonpharmacological therapies for their patients, and when necessary, are educated to prescribe opioids sparingly and safely, along with other concomitant non-opioid and non-pharmacological treatments.

Our position is evident in everything we do: Our publication, The Pain Practitioner, regularly covers both safe opioid use and evidence for non-pharmacological treatments. Our Annual Meetings always present a diverse agenda covering both pharmacological and non-pharmacological options. Our online educational opportunities cover every possible pain treatment with solid evidence, from nutrition and acupuncture, to best practices for opioid prescribing. Our recently published white paper provides guidance on opioid dosing limits. Our advocacy team focuses on a variety of pain policy initiatives, including legislation to require prescribers to check the PDMP before prescribing opioids; mandatory continuing education on pain management and substance use disorders; legislation to limit, in a reasonable manner, the amount of medication that can be prescribed for acute pain; and access to non-pharmacological methods of treating pain.

And, we’re not alone in our mission for an integrative model of care:

  • In 2017, the Joint Commission announced new and revised pain assessment and management standards for its accredited hospitals requiring the safe use of opioids, making non-pharmacological pain treatments available, and focusing on patient-centered care.
  • The National Pain Strategy, published by NIH, calls for, among other things, “Supporting the development of a system of patient-centered integrated pain management practices based on a biopsychosocial model of care that enables providers and patients to access the full spectrum of pain treatment options.”

We are proud of our deep and diversified offerings, and our role in educating healthcare professionals around the world about the evidence for all treatment options, including safe and appropriate opioid use when necessary. We’re grateful for our corporate and industry sponsors who have supported us in this mission, and who themselves represent all treatment options, from pain management clinics, to non-invasive self-care devices, to pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Above all, we stand for a common sense approach to pain management. It is our vision to create a world where no life is limited by pain – no matter how people with pain find relief, as long as it is safe and sustainable, and tied to each patient’s individual experience.