Opioids and Harm Reduction Resource Guide

Prescription opioids are often used to treat chronic and acute pain and can be an important component of treatment when used appropriately. However, in 2019, nearly 50,000 people—approximately 136 per day—died from an opioid overdose, including prescription and illicit opioids. More than 28 percent of all opioid overdoses involve a prescription opioid. 

There are strategies that can help prevent overdose and support the health and well-being of communities. Before prescribing, healthcare providers can help prevent addiction and overdose by examining whether the benefits outweigh the risks, particularly if the patient is taking more than one drug at a time.The best ways to prevent opioid overdose are to improve opioid prescribing, reduce exposure to opioids, prevent misuse, and treat opioid use disorder. 

Fact Sheets

  • Be Opioid Aware | Word Search – Opioids are medications used to treat moderate to severe pain. Complete this word search and review the accompanying glossary to become more aware of the dangers of opioids and the importance of using, storing, and disposing of them properly.
  • Zone Tool: Pain – Use this tool to engage patients who are on new or existing pain medication, help them assess their pain using a “stoplight” format, and understand when it is time to contact their healthcare provider.
  • Know the Facts About Opioid Pain Meds – This brochure describes what opioids are, how to use them safely, and the proper way to dispose of them safely.  
  • Opioids Commonly Prescribed for Pain – List of opioids identified by their generic and brand names commonly prescribed for pain.  
  • What You Need to Know About Treatment and Recovery – Opioids are highly addictive, and they change how the brain works. Anyone can become addicted, even when opioids are prescribed by a doctor and taken as directed. This resource describes the major warning signs of addiction, the importance of asking for help, and talking with the doctor to find out what treatments are best for you.
  • Take Action to Prevent Addiction – Every day in the United States, 41 people lose their lives to prescription opioid overdose. Prescription opioids—like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine—can be prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain but can have serious risks and side effects. This resource provides various facts about opioids, encourages talking about your questions and concerns, and tips to reduce risks associated with this group of medications.
  • Nonopioid Treatments for Chronic Pain – Patients with pain should receive treatment that provides the greatest benefit. Opioids are not the first-line therapy for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. Evidence suggests that nonopioid treatments can provide relief to those suffering from chronic pain and are safer. 
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Fact Sheet – A PDMP is a statewide electronic database that tracks all controlled substance prescriptions. Authorized users can access prescription data such as medications dispensed and doses. Checking your state’s PDMP is an important step in safer prescribing.
  • Pocket Guide: Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain – Use this pocket guide describing how to taper opioid prescribing and how to monitor and adjust the patient’s response to opioids. 
  • Nursing Pocket Guide: Quick Screen for Substance Use – Use this pocket card to guide you through a quick substance use screening for your patients and offer resources for referrals, if needed. 
  • Overdose Prevention Resources | National Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose Factsheet


Helpful Resources