The ACGME believes that physicians should have equal access to the resources and training they need to effectively treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), including behavioral techniques and medication-based therapy.

The need to educate physicians on the treatment of substance use disorder (SUD), for this and the next generation, is a shared responsibility of the medical school, graduate medical education (GME), and continuing medical education communities.

ACGME Common Program Requirements

Effective July 1, 2019, the ACGME requires that all programs “provide instruction and experience in pain management if applicable for the specialty including recognition of the signs of addiction.” (Common Program Requirement IV.C.2.)

This requirement directs appropriate residency and fellowship programs to develop evidence-based educational interventions to effectively teach residents and fellows how to:

  • Prevent substance use disorder wherever possible while effectively treating pain;
  • Recognize substance use disorder in its earliest stages;
  • Function effectively in systems of care for effective pain relief and substance use disorder;
  • Use non-pharmacologic means wherever possible; and,
  • Participate in clinical trials of new non-opioid pain relief customized to the needs of the clinical disorders of the populations they serve.

Learn more about the Common Program Requirements

GME Stakeholder Congress on Preparing Residents and Fellows to Manage Pain and Substance Use Disorder

On March 30-31, 2021, the ACGME hosted a virtual GME Stakeholder Congress on Preparing Residents and Fellows to Manage Pain and Substance Use Disorder. The Congress brought together experts from across the medical education spectrum with the goal of supporting programs in implementing Common Program Requirement IV.C.2. by developing considerations for general and specialty-specific elements of a foundational curriculum for the recognition and treatment of pain and substance use disorder.

National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the US Opioid Epidemic

The ACGME participates in and supports the NAM Action Collaborative on Countering the US Opioid Epidemic. ACGME Chief Research, Milestone Development, and Evaluation Officer Eric Holmboe, MD, MACP, FRCP is a member of the Steering Committee and co-chairs the Health Professional Education and Training Working Group. The Working Group is currently identifying and highlighting professional practice gaps for health care professionals in relation to acute and chronic pain management and substance use disorders, as well as analyzing current accreditation, certification, and regulatory requirements for the same.

Learn more about the goals of the NAM Action Collaborative on Countering the US Opioid Epidemic

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse or overdose from these drugs.

The CDC developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

Learn more about the CDC Guidelines

Contact Us:

John R. Combes, MD
Chief Communications and Public Policy Officer

Additional Links

Resources for Pain Management and Substance Use Disorder
The following resources can be used to help programs and institutions identify solutions to meet local needs. The ACGME does not endorse the use of any specific tool or resource.

New England Journal of Medicine Knowledge + Pain Management and Opioids module
The New England Journal of Medicine, in partnership with Boston University School of Medicine’s SCOPE of Pain and Area9 Lyceum, has instated a learning module to assist in furthering education regarding pain management, opioid prescribing, and OUD.

Medication Assisted Treatment Training
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) of substance use disorders involves a combination of medications that target the brain, and psychosocial interventions (e.g., counseling, skills development) aimed at improving treatment outcomes. Research shows that medications and therapy together may be more successful than either treatment method alone.

ACP Pain Management Learning Series
The American College of Physicians provides interactive modules, case studies, and videos supporting patient-centered pain management, OUD identification, and OUD treatment. Content stresses communication techniques and interdisciplinary team care. Modules can be viewed in a linear fashion or independently. An X-Express buprenorphine waiver video supports implementation for limited waiver applicants.