American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Patient Education Initiatives

Safe Pain Control: Opioid Abuse and Surgery

Managing Your Pain After Surgery brochure coverThe use and abuse of both prescription and illicit drugs has increased dramatically in recent years and has become a major public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids—both prescription and heroin—has quadrupled since 1999.* Coinciding with this increase, the sale of prescription opioids reached 259 million, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.* A most alarming result of these practices is the increased accessibility of addictive opioids. Given the inherent risks of opioids, including dependence and other adverse drug events, surgeons have a responsibility to minimize their patients’ postoperative pain while addressing the societal imperative to avoid overprescribing.

The ACS Patient Education Committee, in collaboration with the ACS Advisory Councils and Advocacy, is developing a multifaceted program targeting opioids and surgery. The opioids and surgery program will support comprehensive training for surgical professionals, including identification of high-risk patients, management of opioid-addicted patients, non-opioid options, and discharge training and monitoring. Additionally, a patient education program will support informed choice and decision quality.


Opioid-Sparing Professional Courses and Resources are intended for the medical professional.

The ACS Safe Pain Control Brochure is intended to inform patients about how they can work with their surgical teams to safely manage postoperative pain. Learn more about the resources referenced in the brochure.

The ACS Provider Opioid Patient Education Survey allows surgeons to submit comments regarding the opioid epidemic and its impact on the surgical patient.  

The ACS Opioids and Surgery: Use, Abuse and Alternatives initiative will offer surgeons access to a comprehensive library of resources specific to opioids and the surgical patient including managing pain expectations, non-opioid options and screening programs.