Dental Tribune America

ADA releases new policy on combating opioid addiction

CHICAGO, U.S.: Opioid addiction may well be one of the most pressing addiction-related issues facing the global community to date. In a move to combat this, the American Dental Association (ADA) recently announced a new policy on opioids supporting mandates on prescription limits and continuing education. The step is an open acknowledgement of this public health concern and could be the first of its kind among major health care professional organizations.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is reportedly driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription analgesics in the same year.

“As President of the ADA, I call upon dentists everywhere to double down on their efforts to prevent opioids from harming our patients and their families,” said ADA President Dr. Joseph P. Crowley. “This new policy demonstrates ADA’s firm commitment to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic while continuing to help patients manage dental pain.”

As part of the new policy, the ADA will support mandatory continuing education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances and support statutory limits on opioid dosage and duration of no more than seven days for the treatment of acute pain, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evidence-based guidelines. Additionally, the ADA will support dentists registering with and utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs to promote the appropriate use of opioids and deter misuse and abuse.

In order to help with understanding of the new policy and offer more detailed information on opioid prescriptions from a dental perspective, several articles have been published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association(JADA).

“The JADA articles shine an important light on a public health epidemic from the dental perspective, and signal that while the percentage of opioids prescribed by dentists has decreased since 1998, we can continue to do even more to help keep opioids from being a source of harm,” said Crowley. “Working together with physicians, pharmacies, other health care professionals, policymakers and the public, we believe it is possible to end this tragic and preventable public health crisis that has been devastating our families and communities.”

More information on how the ADA is working to combat opioid abuse can be found at

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