New AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force Urges Action to Help Patients

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) and the American Medical Association (AMA) released new recommendations as part of the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force to help end the nation’s drug-related overdose and death epidemic.
The recommendations are focused on actions physicians can take as well as those policymakers and public health officials must take. This includes broad efforts to remove barriers and improve access to evidence-based care for patients with pain, a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental illness, as well as increase access to multiple harm reduction strategies. The new Task Force also will work to more directly address the changing drug overdose epidemic, focus on removing racial, gender, sexual orientation, and other health-related inequities.
“The nation’s physicians must continue to lead by example to help our patients with pain, SUDs and mental illness,” said Task Force Chair Bobby Mukkamala, MD. “But removing barriers requires more stakeholders to join us. This new Task Force is making clear the opportunity we have to reduce mortality and improve outcomes, but we also will be clear with policymakers that failure to adopt our recommendations will prolong the epidemic and our patients’ suffering.”
Highlights of the recommendations include:
  • Support patients with pain, mental illness or a SUD by building an evidence-based, sustainable and resilient infrastructure and health care workforce rather than continuing a crisis-driven approach that has led to multiple unintended negative consequences, including one-size-fits-all strategies, continued stigma and widespread gaps in data, evidence-based treatment, and prevention efforts.
  • Support coverage for, access to, and payment of comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, multi-modal evidence-based treatment for patients with pain, a SUD or mental illness. Additionally, coverage, access and payment should directly address racial, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic and economic inequities as well as social determinants of health. This includes removing barriers to evidence-based treatment for SUDs, co-occurring mental illness and pain.
  • Broaden public health and harm reduction strategies to save lives from overdose, limit the spread of infectious disease, eliminate stigma and reduce harms for people who use drugs and other substances.
  • Improve stakeholder and multi-sector collaboration in an effort to ensure that the patients, policymakers, employers, and communities benefit from evidence-based decisions.
Read the full Task Force recommendations:
Member organizations in the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force
American Medical Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Pain Medicine
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons
American College of Emergency Physicians
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
American College of Physicians
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Psychiatric Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
American Society of Anesthesiologists
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Arkansas Medical Society
California Medical Association
Maine Medical Association
Massachusetts Medical Society
Medical Society of the State of New York
New Mexico Medical Society
Ohio State Medical Association
Oregon Medical Association
Utah Medical Association