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Prescription Drug Abuse: An Introduction

NIDA Centers of Excellence for Physician Information


Provides an overview of prescription drug abuse, framed within the clinical scenario of chronic pain management in the outpatient setting.

Resource Materials


Developer: Boston University School of Medicine (Massachusetts Consortium)

Curriculum resource type: Lecture

Method used: Didactic presentation with PowerPoint slides

Intended audience: Internal medicine and family medicine resident physicians

Implementation time: 2-hour presentation

Additional components: Speaker notes; four background papers; bibliography

Educational objectives:

  • Increase awareness of the problem of prescription drug abuse.
  • Discuss psychosocial and medical issues associated with pharmacologic management of chronic pain.
  • Develop a framework for safe prescribing practices and seeking consultation with faculty preceptors to aid in assessment and management.

Evaluation tools: Questionnaires completed by attendees assessing effectiveness of lecture; self-report of confidence in opioid use in chronic pain and prescription drug abuse

Curriculum resource description: This curriculum module provides an overview of prescription drug abuse, framed within the common clinical scenario of chronic pain management in the outpatient setting. It is targeted toward resident physicians in internal medicine and family medicine as well as medical students on clinical rotations. The information may also be adapted for training of pediatric residents, particularly those who care for patients most at risk for chronic pain, such as those with sickle cell anemia or chronic bone and joint problems. The module consists of a 2-hour lecture and accompanying PowerPoint presentation, with detailed lecture notes that allow the lecturer to more fully explain the information contained in each slide, as well as this guide, which focuses on presentation/teaching strategy. In addition, the "Additional Resources" section provides the presenter with a comprehensive list of background reading that includes references to four key papers. Also, notations on the slides indicate where the 2-hour lecture may be modified and streamlined to fit into the usual 1-hour lecture slots present in most training programs.

Key words: Drug abuse; drug addiction; substance abuse; prescription drug abuse; motivational interviewing

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