Chronic pain is one of the most common complaints a primary care physician faces while in practice. As resident physicians at Jefferson Hospital Ambulatory Practice (JHAP), it is a frequently addressed concern, which ultimately leads to the question of whether or not opiates should be prescribed at JHAP to those patients who have failed non-narcotic alternatives.

The hesitation most physicians have in prescribing such medications is the potential for abuse, addiction and diversion. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shares these concerns and consequently monitors and restricts the prescription of opioids, stimulants and anxiolytics by requiring a separate license. Most resident physicians choose to not obtain a DEA license because of the cost, but also due to the convenience of not having the responsibility that comes from prescribing controlled substances.