How To Taper Patients Off Of Chronic Opioid Therapy


Stanford School of Medicine

How To Taper Patients Off Of Chronic Opioid Therapy


This CME activity will enable doctors to recognize when risks of chronic opioid therapy outweigh benefits, and how to safely and compassionately taper patients off of chronic opioid therapy (including the use of buprenorphine to make this transition). A real life patient case scenario will be used to illustrate these principles in practice, including what to say to patients to communicate risks and provide support through the difficult period of withdrawal. When to refer for addiction treatment will also be discussed.

Intended Audience

This course is designed to meet the educational needs of physicians and nurses in primary care, family practice, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, psychiatry, addiction medicine, and interested Allied Health Professionals.

What you will learn

  • Recognize when risks of chronic opioid therapy outweigh benefits and effectively communicate this information to patients.
  • Employ language to prepare patients in advance for the opioid taper, and to provide emotional support in the midst of withdrawal.
  • Integrate the key features of a successful outpatient taper off of chronic opioid therapy: go slowly, take breaks, never go backwards.
  • Distinguish the signs and symptoms of opioid use disorder (addiction), and intervene with compassion when, in the process of a taper, an opioid use disorder comes to light.
  • Counsel patients on non-opioid alternatives to chronic pain


To Obtain CME Credits

  • Review the information below and complete the entire activity.
  • Complete the CME Post-test, CME Evaluation Survey, and CME Activity Completion Statement at the end of the activity.
  • You must receive a score of 75% or higher on the post-test in order to receive a certificate. You will have three attempts to answer each multiple-choice question (or one attempt for questions with only two options) to pass the post-test.
  • Once you attest to completing the entire online activity and have scored 75% or higher on the post-test, your certificate will be generated automatically and will be available on your Dashboard page.
  • Physicians will be awarded AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. All other participants will receive a Certificate of Participation.


The following planner, speaker and author has indicated that she has no relationships with industry to disclose relative to the content of this activity:

Anna Lembke, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Program Director for the Stanford University Addiction Medicine Fellowship
Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic
Stanford University School of Medicine
Course Director


The patient in the course, using the pseudonym Laura, has indicated that she has no relationships with industry to disclose relative to the content of this activity.

Enroll Now

Delivery Option:
Online Course Free

This course may not currently be available to learners in some states and territories.