Pharmacy Practice Review

Opioids: reducing harms from long-term use

Discuss benefits and harms of opioids with patients and explore non-pharmacological alternatives.

  • Cost: free

Pr PR_opioids

Content updated August 2020 with funding from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health, to reflect regulatory reforms and PBS listing changes.




It is recommended that up to 8 hours of Group 3 CPD (or 24 CPD credits) be recorded for the purposes of self-directed pharmacist CPD.

Choose from:

1. Express version: 5 episodes of care for 5 hours of Group 3 CPD (or 15 CPD credits)


2. Standard version: 10 episodes of care for 8 hours of Group 3 CPD (or 24 CPD credits)

You will be given the option to submit your data once 5 episodes of care are entered, or continue to 10 episodes of care.



Read the FAQs

Opioids can play an important role in the management of pain and can be beneficial for some individuals. However, there is increasing concern about their use and safety, especially in chronic non-cancer pain.

This Pharmacy Practice Review provides you with an opportunity to reflect on your counselling of patients using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Recognise the limited evidence of benefits of opioids and refresh your knowledge on the serious harms of long-term use. Identify factors that place patients at increased risk of harms, improve your confidence in talking about opioid tapering and reflect on strategies that have been implemented to mitigate harms and promote safe use of opioids.


Learning outcomes

On completion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • Discuss with patients the limited role of opioids in improving function for chronic non-cancer pain, using a biopsychosocial model of care
  • Recommend non-pharmacological pain management strategies individualised for patients
  • Identify patients at increased risk of harms from opioids who may benefit from tapering
  • Implement effective communication when discussing tapering with patients

You will have access to:

  • Up-to-date clinical guidance which provides evidence-based information to update your knowledge and guide your counselling encounters with patients
  • Pharmacist tools that inform and support your best practice discussions with patients
  • Expert commentary from Karalyn Huxhagen, BPharm FPS AACPA



Frequently asked questions

Refer to the FAQs for more information.

See the Privacy and confidentiality details.