Addiction medicine

Chronic pain, opioids and dependence. A role for every GP

Ian Thong, Vivienne Miller



Every GP has a role at some level in caring for patients who develop opioid dependence while being treated with opioids for chronic pain. Two cases of opioid dependence managed in general practice with the assistance of pain and addiction specialists are discussed. Note This article was first published in the Medicine Today supplement Prescription opioid misuse: contemporary challenges in June 2015 and has been updated in this issue (May 2016).

Key Points

  • Patients with opioid dependence are a common presentation in general practice.
  • Stable patients taking medications for pain who are opioid dependent should ideally be managed in routine general practice.
  • As well as usual primary care, opioid use or opioid substitution treatment needs monitoring in these patients.
  • Shared care with pain and addiction specialists is an effective way for GPs to provide care to patients with addiction.

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