Policy Studies Harm Reduction

Harm reduction strategies for chronic pain management in the opioid epidemic

Key Points

Proper chronic pain management needs to remain a priority and we need to recognize that opioid use for chronic pain management is often essential and appropriate.
Draconian measures to reduce opioid prescribing are likely to put chronic pain patients at risk of improper or inadequate pain management, the result of which may exacerbate the opioid epidemic in other ways, such as illicit drug use in pursuit of pain relief.

The opioid epidemic is a complex problem affecting distinct populations of opioid users and therefore solutions that take a singular approach are likely to fail. Thoughtful data-driven harm reduction approaches for opioid use in the treatment of chronic pain likely offer more realistic solutions for this population.

…with strategic design and implementation, harm reduction strategies hold promise to have a significant positive impact when applied to the use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain.




Image credit: Victor Moussa

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