General considerations for the management of pain with any medication that contains an opioid mechanism of action

​The following general aspects should be considered:

  • An individualised, patient-centred approach for diagnosis and treatment of pain is essential to establish a therapeutic alliance between patient and clinician.
  • Consider patient variables that may affect opioid dose in patients prior to opioid use.1
  • In patients with acute pain e.g. post-surgery pain, the use of medication should be for the shortest necessary time.1
  • All patients should be carefully selected, abuse risk factors evaluated and regular monitoring and follow-up implemented to ensure that opioids are used appropriately3,4 and in alignment with treatment goals (pain intensity and functionality) as agreed with the patient.3,4
  • Patients should be made aware of the potential side effects of opioids and the potential of developing tolerance, dependence and addiction.3,4
  • It is important to optimally use multimodal, non-opioid approaches in acute and chronic pain before escalating to opioids or in conjunction with opioid therapy.1
  • Addiction is possible even when opioids are taken as directed. The exact prevalence of abuse in patients treated with opioids for chronic pain is difficult to determine.5
  •  Regular clinical reviews are required for long-term opioid treatment to assess pain control, impact on lifestyle, physical and psychological wellbeing, side effects and continued need for treatment2
  • Any long term treatment with opioids should be monitored and re-evaluated regularly, including tapering down the dose or discontinuing treatment3,4
  • Signs of opioid use disorder should be monitored and addressed3,4
  • Patients and the general public can benefit from clear educational materials and awareness interventions to support the responsible use of opioids.6



1.DHHS Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Taskforce Report May 2019.
2.O’Brien T et al. Eur J Pain 2017;21:3-192.
3.Faculty of Pain Medicine, Opioids Aware. Available at: (accessed September 2019).
4.Kosten TR et al, Scie Pract. Perspect 2002;1:13-20.
5.Rosenblum A et al Exp. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 2008;16(5):405-416.
6.OECD Health Policy. Addressing Problematic opioid use in OECD Countries May 2019. Available at: (accessed January 2020).


M-N/A-UK-01-24-0011 - February 2024