Opioid Epidemic Resources for Nurse Educators

AACN is a committed to addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic in the United States. As the severity of this crisis continues to rise, AACN continues in its leadership role within the academic nursing community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans die each year from drug overdoses than in motor vehicle accidents. The majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications.

AACN is committed to mobilizing the academic nursing response by joining the National Academy of Medicine's Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. As part of this new initiative, AACN is reaching out to all member schools – not only those with APRN programs – to rally support for taking action at the local level. Read AACN’s Commitment Statement.

Educational Resources and Guidelines

Continuing Education

CDC Recommendations for Nonopioid Treatments in the Management of Chronic Pain

Treating Chronic Pain without Opioids


CDC Webinar Series on New Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
In an effort to imbed Guideline recommendations within education and training for providers, CDC will be hosting a seven-part webinar series about the Guideline. Each one-hour webinar will be available as a live webinar broadcast and as archived recordings following the live webinars. These are free and offer continuing education credit to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, health educators, and other healthcare providers.

Non-Opioid Treatments: Addressing Recommendation 1

Assessing Benefits and Harms of Opioid Therapy: Addressing Recommendations 1, 2, 7, and 8

Dosing and Titration of Opioids: Addressing Recommendations 4, 5, and 7

Assessment and Evidence-based Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder

Risk Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Opioid Overdoses

Effectively Communication with Patients about Opioid Therapy

CDC & ODPHP’s Response to U.S. Opioid Overdose Epidemic

On-Demand Webinars

Answering the Call for Opioid Education

The National Opioid Crisis: Your Practice, Your Responsibility

The Opioid Crisis: APRN Curricular Integration

Understanding the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and other National Strategies

Answering the Call to Action: Addressing the Nation’s Opioid Crisis

Effective Treatments for Opioid Use Disorders: Educating & Empowering Nurses During an Epidemic
Presented by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association

Overview of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: A Review of Recommendations 1-12
The first webinar will provide an overview of the CDC recommendations and learn when and how opioids should be initiated for chronic pain, how to assess risk and address harms of opioid use, and when and how opioids should be discontinued.
Presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Using Case Studies for Intergrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Into Curriculum
SBIRT is an approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment to people with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing these disorders (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

These webinars offer free continuing nursing education units (including pharmacology).

For webinar support, contact Sean Holloway at webinars@aacnnursing.org or at (202) 463-6930 ext. 243.

Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018

The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018 (S. 2524/H.R. 5102) would amend Title VII of the Public Health Service Act to authorize a loan repayment program for substance use disorder treatment providers, including physicians, registered nurses, social works, and other behavioral health professionals. The bill was introduced on March 8, 2018 by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Companion bill H.R. 5102 was introduced in the House on February 27, 2018 by Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Harold Rogers (R-KY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and referred to the Subcommittee on Health. On March 21, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing which included consideration of H.R. 5102 titled “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Prevention and Public Health Solutions.”

Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2018

The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 3692/S. 2317) would broaden the Controlled Substances Act to create a permanent solution so that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, including nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists, can prescribe and refer for Medication Assisted Treatment to address patients struggling with addiction. H.R. 3692 was introduced on September 21, 2017 by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and S. 2317 was introduced on January 17, 2018 by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

Academic Nursing Responds to the Opioid Epidemic

During the Obama Administration, AACN partnered with more than 40 other healthcare provider groups to launch a national nursing education initiative among our members and supported an important public awareness campaign. As part of our specific commitment to advancing this work, AACN identified two aspirational goals, which included:

  1. Educating 15,000 nursing students and faculty on opioid prescriber practices and medication-assisted treatments though webinars and conference presentations; 
  2. Engaging our vast communications network and social media channels to reach 60,000 students, faculty, and stakeholders with information about the provider awareness campaign.

Read “AACN Partners with the White House to Educate America’s Nurses on Prescription Drug Abuse” press release

Proportion of Schools of Nursing Pledged to Teach The CDC Guideline by state