The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a U.S. federal law enforcement agency, under the U.S. Department of Justice, charged with combating illicit drug trafficking and distribution within the U.S. Established in 1973, the DEA is 50 years old this year and has been enforcing the controlled substance laws and regulations through a variety of programs in conjunction with the FDA, the Department of Justice and many other state and federal organizations.
Beginning on June 27, 2023, all DEA-registered practitioners, except veterinarians, will be required to affirm that they have completed a new one-time, eight hour training on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. Some practitioners already will have satisifed this new training requirement. They are board certified practitioners in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry from the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, or the American Osteopathic Association and new practitioners within the past five years that have successfully completed a curriculum that included at least eight hours of training on those topics.
An opioid use disorder is defined as a chronic, treatable mental health condition that involves a problematic pattern of opioid misuse causing distress or impairment of your daily life. Opioid use disorder is a chronic lifelong condition with serious potential consequences, including disability, overdoses, relapses and death.
A DEA registration is required to prescribe any controlled substance, such as fentanyl, oxycodone and morphine to name a few. There are nearly 2 million DEA registrants including physicians and other health care providers such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and dentists that will undergo a total of 16 million hours of new opioid education within the next year, which should result in additional life-saving efforts in the war on opioids.
What does this mean for all Workers’ Compensation stakeholders involved in delivering the most appropriate care to injured workers? Having more highly trained and educated health care practitioners can potentially reduce inappropriate use of opioid medications during the injury treatment while still addressing pain management, expedient recovery and a reduction in aberrant drug-related behavior.
The use of opioid medications is at an all-time low. However, there is a need to remain vigilant and to make sure that those patients in need of pain management are not deprived of treatment, but are encouraged to obtain the optimum combination of medications and other proven alternative options. This huge effort by the DEA will provide up-to-date, medically appropriate training for those patients that might not have been optimally treated for pain in the long-term.