Opioid Abuse Resource Center

Last Updated: Sep 12, 2019

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has developed several resources to help educate Pennsylvania physicians and help them navigate the growing opioid abuse epidemic. You can find these resources below. We also advocate on behalf of Pennsylvania physicians and patients to ensure that opioid-related legislation takes a common sense, patient-centered approach.


  • Act 124 requires both applicants applying for an initial license and physicians applying for re-licensure to complete a certain number of hours of opioid-related education. Learn more in PAMED’s members-only Quick Consult .
  • Opioids-HomeAddressing Pennsylvania's Opioid Crisis: What Health Care Teams Need to Know (up to 5.5 CME credits) – This program is divided into five sessions and each session consists of four, 15-minute modules. The program covers a variety of tools and resources for prescribers and dispensers to better address opioid addiction with their patients.
    1. Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic, Non-Cancer Pain Session
    2. Naloxone 
    3. Referral to Treatment
    4. PA Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): Get an introduction to the state's PDMP
    5. PA's PDMP: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure: Offers case studies to help physicians use the PDMP to help with clinical decision making
    6. Alternatives to Opioid Therapy
  • Chronic-Pain-CMEUsing Opioids to Treat Chronic Pain (up to 5 CME credits) – This series is available only to PAMED members.
    1. Interdisciplinary Pain Care: Where Do Opioids Fit In?
    2. Opioid Therapy: Does it Work and at What Cost?
    3. Patient Monitoring During Care
    4. Treatment Failure: What to do when things don't go well
    5. Putting it all Together: Managing Pain in High Risk Patients 
  • Risks Associated with Chronic Pain Management (up to 1 CME credit) – This CME activity helps physicians manage patients' pain patients by using evidence-based guidelines, pain assessment inventories, depression and suicide assessment tools, therapeutic agreements, and timely referrals and consultations.
  • Lifeguard, a program of the Foundation of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, offers a Controlled Substance and Opioid Prescribing Educational Program.
  • How to Find Physician Training on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependency


The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)

  • Learn more about prescriber and dispenser querying requirements and exceptions with Pennsylvania’s PDMP in PAMED’s members-only Quick Consult .
  • The PDMP is able to integrate with EHRs and pharmacy management systems of all eligible health care entities in Pa. Learn more
  • The PDMP is sharing data with several other states and D.C. PAMED members can access crosswalks that show the differences between Pa.’s PDMP and other states’ systems.

Voluntary Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

PAMED and other key stakeholders developed voluntary prescribing guidelines for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain and the emergency department. Since that time, additional guidelines have been developed by the state and other stakeholders.

They include:

Prescribing and Other Opioid Related Laws

  • Learn more about laws that limit prescribing in certain settings, limit prescribing for minors, allow patients to sign a non-opioid directive form, and establish medical school curriculum related to safe opioid prescribing and pain management in PAMED’s members-only Quick Consult .
  • In response to the opioid abuse crisis, several pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurers have also implemented policies around prescribing and dispensing limits. As we become aware of these changes, PAMED alerts its members through our communications channels.

Helping Addicted Patients

A warm hand-off is a process by which a physician does a face-to-face introduction to a substance use disorder provider to facilitate a patient’s referral to substance use disorder treatment. 

There are several resources about warm hand-offs and referrals to treatment available for physicians and patients, such as:

  • The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) has a flow chart to help get those with substance use disorders to the right resources.
  • If the patient doesn’t have insurance coverage, you should contact the Single County Authority (SCA) in the county where the patient lives. Get a list here.
  • If the patient has Medicaid, you should contact the Behavioral Health Managed Care Organization (BH-MCO) in the region where the patient lives. Get a list here.
  • If the patient has commercial insurance, you should contact their insurer.
  • DDAP has a 24-hour hotline to locate drug and alcohol treatment services. Call 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).
  • Access a warm hand-off demo video from PAMED.
  • The Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians, in collaboration with the state, developed warm hand-off protocols.

More Information on Naloxone

  • Get information on the standing orders, approved training, FAQs, and more on the Pa. Department of Health’s website.

Additional Resources

  • The Opioid Response Network is a program that provides education and training at a local level to help communities respond to the opioid abuse crisis. Funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it provides free technical assistance in prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives. Health care organizations can request training and resources tailored for them by visiting opioidresponsenetwork.org.
  • Help your patients find drug take-back box locations.


PAMED is at the forefront in the fight against opioid abuse, advocating for Pennsylvania physicians and patients.

What Is PAMED Doing?

  • Advocating to ensure that legislation takes a commonsense, patient-centered approach.
  • Collaborating with other stakeholders, such as the Pa. Department of Health and the Attorney General’s office to collaborate to address the opioid abuse crisis.
  • Working to address the issue through our Opioid Advisory Task Force.

What Can Physicians Do?

  • Stay up to date on opioid-related proposed legislation.
  • Educate legislators on what PAMED and Pennsylvania physicians have done to address the opioid crisis, as well as next steps to continue these efforts (e.g. increased treatment facilities, etc.).
  • Watch for email calls to action from PAMED when the physician voice needs to be heard.
  • PAMPAC is committed to supporting Pennsylvania legislators and state officials who continue to fight for patient safety and the preservation of the physician-patient relationship. Learn more at www.pampac.org or by contacting John Tommasini, PAMPAC Director, at jtommasini@pamedsoc.org

Learn more about PAMED’s advocacy efforts on opioid abuse and other legislative priorities at www.pamedsoc.org/Advocacy.


Leave a comment
  1. Lynda C. Graves | Dec 27, 2018
    Practical but  not too relevant to a retired MD who does not prescribe narcotics
  2. Andrew Waxler | Nov 10, 2018
    Nice job - very informative!
  3. Thomas J. Toner | Oct 29, 2018
    healped me understand the problem
  4. Harinidevi Krishnan | Sep 22, 2018
    practical Information. Relavent to my Practice
  5. Sukhdev S. Grover | Jul 10, 2018
    thank you
  6. Barry S. Brenner | Jun 26, 2018
    Agreed; good summary of where we are, but of limited value to those who no longer prescribe these medications
  7. Frederick Carel Saunders | Apr 22, 2018
    Practicle but  not too relevant to a retired MD who does not prescribe narcotics
  8. Beth Ann Magnifico | Apr 09, 2018
    Practical information, relevant to my practice.

    Leave a comment

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