American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Opioid Prescribing Resources

The United States is currently seeing the highest overdose death rates ever recorded in the nation's history. Every day, more than 116 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.

The Surgical Setting is a Gateway to Addiction that Can Be Prevented

The surgical setting exposes more than 40 million patients annually to excess risk and potential addiction from opioids postoperatively1,2

  • As many as 6.5% of these patients (~2.6M patients) that take opioids to manage pain after surgery may become persistent opioid users.2 Of these patients up to 670,000 will develop Opioid Use Disorder (DUD) or addiction.3

Post-operative prescriptions put over a billion left-over opioids into medicine cabinets every year

  • In 2012, more than 255 million opioid prescriptions were written in the U.S.4
  • The surgical process accounted for 36.5% of total opioid prescriptions
  • A recent review of 6 studies showed 67-92% of patients reported unused opioids after surgery5
  • 55% of people who misuse opioids obtain them from family or friends who have excess pills6

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Vital Statistics System. https://www.cdc.govfnchs!nvss/vsrr/mortality.htm - Quarterly Provisional Estimates for Selected Indicators of Mortality, 201 5—Quarter 2, 2017. Updated November 3, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2017.2. Brummett CM et al. JAMA Stir9. 201 7;e170504. 3. CDC 2017: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opiold Overdose: U.S. Prescribing Rates Map. Available at https:llwww.cdc.govfdrugoverdose/maps/rxrate-maps.html. Accessed 8 March 2018.6. Levy et al. Am J Prey Med. 201 5;49(3):409-41 3.5. Bicket et al. JAMA Surg2Ol7;152(11):1066-1071. 6. United States for Non-Dependence. Available at Published September 2017. Accessed 28 February 2018.

In light of an ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States, the ASPS Patient Safety Committee has created a webpage dedicated to opioid prescribing resources. This site includes general information on opioids, a free CME course, and an ASPS Advocacy section. This site will be updated as new information becomes available.

ASPS Statement on Opioids


This section provides general information on opioids. Learn more by clicking on each bullet item below.


The goal of this activity is to improve the safe prescribing of opioids. Earn CME credits by taking courses on opioids.


ASPS is working with the Alliance of Specialty Medicine to influence Congress as they study the opioid epidemic.

Last updated on September 9, 2019.