IRETA and NIDA are launching an online course to share research about doctor shopping and teen opioid use

Last year, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tom Friedan tweeted a convincing infographic about why we need to better address nonmedical prescription drug use.

Overdose deaths are just the tip of the iceberg, he said.


“The abuse of opiate pills and heroin are both taking a tremendous toll on the United States.They are leading to increased crime, decreased productivity and they’re stealing the lives of too many people. – Sanjay Gupta, M.D.

Prescription opioids can create mind-boggling dilemmas for policymakers, clinicians, and parents. They are essential tools in the treatment of acute pain. Although research on their use to treat chronic pain is minimal, opioids are prescribed widely for that purpose.

We know that misuse of opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction and overdose. Since 2003, more overdose deaths are attributable to prescription painkillers than to heroin and cocaine combined. We also know that opioid misuse increasingly leads to heroin use, which carries its own troubling constellation of risks like infectious disease and criminal justice involvement.

In response, President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget invests $100 million in prescription drug abuse prevention. And the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has partnered with IRETA to share current research about prescription opioids with practitioners in health and human services fields.

“The Prevalence of Prescription Opioid Misuse: Doctor Shopping, Co-ingestion, and Exposure” is a free online course created by NIDA and IRETA that aims to familiarize participants with the latest research and science about prescription opioid misuse and related behaviors.

The videos, informative graphics, and practice scenarios focus on two aspects of opioid misuse–the behavior pattern known as “doctor shopping” and the co-ingestion of opioids with other drugs by adolescents.

The course covers the following material:

  • Introduction to the most common varieties of prescription opioids
  • Why are they used and who uses them?
  • What is doctor shopping?
  • Rates of exposure to opioids among teens
  • Risk factors for teen opioid misuse
  • Co-ingestion; using opioids with other substances, such as alcohol

Course topics include doctor-shopping and teen opioid use


Doctor Shopping

Although “doctor shoppers” comprise only 0.7 percent of opioid-prescribed patients, they receive four percent of the nation’s opioids. It’s important to recognize doctor shoppers because they are at high risk for overdose and diversion.

Adolescent Co-ingestion

Seventy percent of teens who use prescription opioids consume them along with another substance, such as alcohol or marijuana. Because alcohol, marijuana, and opioids all share some neurological and physiological effects, they can amplify each other—including certain factors that underlie addiction.

Joining the Course

Opioids are here to stay. Knowing and addressing risky behaviors associated with nonmedical use can help prevent potentially grave consequences such as overdose and addiction.

To enroll in the course, visit IRETA’s website and click the link to enroll:


This online course is approved for A FREE Certificate of Attendance, OR 2 NAADAC CEHs, 2 SW CEUs, or 2 PA CADC CEUs.

There is a $10 fee per CEU certificate.


Visit NIDA Notes for the latest on opioid misuse and drug abuse research:

View IRETA’s other online courses, including SBIRT for Adolescents: