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Requirements for Prescribers of Controlled Substances

As a federal law enforcement agency, DEA is also in charge of combating drug addiction by managing those who prescribe controlled substances.

Navigation: DEA Updates Training Requirements for Prescribers of Controlled Substances, What are Controlled Substances?, Why Are Controlled Substances Dangerous?, Who Are Most Likely to Abuse Controlled Substances?, How to Keep Yourself Safe from Controlled Substances, How is Drug Addiction Treated?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


There are several organizations and departments that follow applicable federal and state laws to help combat the misuse and abuse of controlled substances. This includes the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and of course, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

These organizations fight addiction by regulating controlled substances, enforcing laws related to drugs, researching substance use disorders, creating public health campaigns, and supporting treatment programs.

Both the DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are key agencies within the HHS.

As a federal law enforcement agency, DEA is also in charge of combating drug addiction by managing those who prescribe controlled substances. In fact, the DEA recently updated the training requirements for controlled substances prescribers.


DEA Updates Training Requirements for Prescribers of Controlled Substances

In March 2023, the DEA issued new training requirements for DEA-registered prescribers of controlled substances. The SAMHSA also shared some recommendations on how practitioners can meet the said requirements.

Under the new law, all prescribers of schedule II to V controlled substances need to complete a one-time training requirement that tackles how to identify, manage, and treat patients who have an opioid use disorder or any other substance use disorder. This training requirement is eight hours long.

Because the state of California requires similar education, many physicians in the state may have already met the new training requirements established by the DEA.

The California Medical Association (CMA) did not support DEA’s new mandate, however, their continuing medical education (CME) in pain management can be used to satisfy these requirements. California physicians are already required to finish 12 hours of CME for the treatment of opioid-dependent individuals as well as terminally ill and dying patients.

According to the DEA, past training for the treatment of opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders can count towards the new requirement. Any physician who has already received relevant training from accredited groups recognized by the DEA even before the law was put in place can use it to fulfill the DEA requirement.

Starting June 27, 2023, all physicians applying for a DEA registration will have to complete the required training upon application. Meanwhile, physicians who have an existing DEA license will have to go through this required training during their next license renewal.

An exemption to this new law are physicians who have already received board certification in addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine. Similarly, physicians who received training in medical school are also exempt from this new requirement.

These educational requirements are meant to protect patients from the adverse health effects and addictive properties of certain controlled substances. Before a physician can prescribe buprenorphine or any other controlled substance, they need to understand the potential dangers of giving these medications to patients.


What are Controlled Substances?

In the US, the term “controlled substances” refers to drugs and other substances that are regulated by the government due to their potential for abuse, addiction, and harm to people. These substances are classified into five schedules based on their medical use, potential for abuse, and safety:

Schedule I: These substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Examples include heroin, LSD, and marijuana.

Schedule II: These substances have a high potential for abuse and severe dependence but have accepted medical uses. Examples include morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

Schedule III: These substances have a moderate to low potential for abuse and physical dependence but have accepted medical uses. Examples include anabolic steroids and codeine.

Schedule IV: These substances have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule II or Schedule III substances but still have a risk of abuse and dependence. These substances are generally used for medical purposes and can be prescribed by a healthcare provider. Examples of Schedule IV substances include benzodiazepines like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) as well as sedatives and muscle relaxants.

Schedule V: These substances have the lowest potential for abuse among the controlled substances but still carry a risk of dependence. These substances have an accepted medical use and are generally available over the counter or by prescription. Examples of Schedule V substances include some cough medicines containing codeine and anti-diarrheal medications containing diphenoxylate.

The classification of a substance as a controlled substance affects its availability, prescription requirements, and criminal penalties for possession, distribution, and sale.

Why Are Controlled Substances Dangerous?

Controlled substances can have a range of negative effects on the body and mind. For example, they can cause changes in mood, behavior, and cognitive function. They can also impact physical health, leading to a range of issues such as heart problems, liver damage, and infections.

Here are some examples of physical effects caused by the misuse of controlled substances:

Changes in Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Many controlled substances can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This can be particularly dangerous for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

Dilated Pupils: Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines can cause dilated pupils, which can lead to light sensitivity and blurred vision.

Nausea and Vomiting: Opioids and other central nervous system depressants can cause nausea and vomiting, particularly when consumed in high doses.

Muscle Tremors and Twitches: Certain stimulants like methamphetamine and ecstasy can cause muscle tremors and twitching.

Impaired Coordination: Consuming alcohol or drugs like marijuana can impair coordination, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

Respiratory Depression: Opioids can cause respiratory depression, which can lead to slowed breathing or even death in extreme cases.

Seizures: Stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine can cause seizures, particularly when consumed in high doses.

Keep in mind that the physical effects of controlled substances vary depending on the type of substance and the dosage consumed. Aside from these health problems, taking certain controlled substances can also lead to drug abuse and addiction.

Many of these substances, such as opioids, can quickly lead to physical dependence especially if they are misused or taken recreationally. Dependence means that the body needs the drug in order to function normally. This can result in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available, which can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous in some cases.

Another danger of controlled substances is the risk of overdose. When someone takes too much of a controlled substance, it can cause a range of symptoms, including respiratory depression, seizures, and even death. This risk is particularly high with opioids, which can cause respiratory depression at high doses.

The physical effects of controlled substances can be unpredictable. Many factors can influence the effects as well as their severity and duration, including the individual’s age, weight, and overall health. Some drugs, particularly Schedule I controlled substances, are extremely potent.

Long-term use of certain controlled substances can also lead to serious health problems, such as liver damage, heart disease, and mental health disorders. The dangers of controlled substances are significant and should not be underestimated. It is important to use these substances only under the guidance of a medical professional, and to be aware of the potential risks and side effects.

Who Are Most Likely to Abuse Controlled Substances?

There is no one definitive way to answer this question, as the risk factors for substance abuse and addiction are complex and multifaceted. However, there are some factors that may increase an individual’s likelihood of abusing controlled substances.

For example, addiction has a genetic factor, which means a family history of substance abuse can play a role in the development of addiction. Certain genes can also make a person more susceptible to addiction.

People with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of substance abuse.

There are a lot of personal factors to be considered when thinking about an individual’s likelihood of developing an addiction. Even a person’s age can influence their chances of abusing certain substances. Adolescents and young adults are at higher risk of addiction because their brains are still developing, and they may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

On top of that, teenagers, adolescents, and young adults are also more vulnerable to peer pressure and may take drugs just to fit in with their friends. Being around friends or acquaintances who use drugs can increase the likelihood of an individual trying them as well.

This is only one of the social risk factors that influence the development of addiction. Exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age, stress, trauma, and peer pressure can all increase the risk of addiction. Individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their pain. Additionally, having easy access to drugs can make you more likely to use and abuse them.

It is important to note that substance abuse can affect people of all ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Anyone can develop a substance abuse problem, regardless of their demographic characteristics or personal circumstances.

These risk factors do not determine who will actually become addicted in the future. This only shows the likelihood of developing an addiction. Generally speaking, the more risk factors a person has, the more likely they are to become addicted. It doesn’t mean they will actually engage in drug abuse. It only means they have to be extra careful.

How to Keep Yourself Safe from Controlled Substances

Addiction is a medical condition that is characterized by the compulsive use of a certain substance even when the person is already experiencing the adverse effects of its abuse. Addiction can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory problems, heart disease, liver disease, and mental health disorders, but the addicted individual will have no control over their intake.

Addiction not only affects the individual but also the people around them. It can strain relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners. Certain addictions can even lead to legal problems, such as DUI charges or drug-related offenses. This is because addicted people tend to engage in risky behaviors just to try and obtain their drug of choice.

This condition can also be expensive, and individuals who struggle with addiction may find themselves struggling financially. This only adds to the stress and anxiety that they are already experiencing. Although addiction treatment can be expensive, staying addicted is actually costlier in the long run. You have to think of rehab as an investment to your health and sobriety.

Here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe from controlled substances:

Educate yourself: Learn about the risks and dangers associated with controlled substances, including their effects on the body and potential for addiction. Knowing the facts can help you make informed decisions and avoid risky behaviors.

Avoid drug use: The safest way to avoid the harmful effects of controlled substances is to not use them. Refrain from using drugs, even on a recreational basis, to reduce the risk of addiction, overdose, and other negative outcomes. Avoid situations where you may be tempted to take drugs or drink alcohol.

Be mindful of prescriptions: If you are prescribed a controlled substance, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Only take the prescribed amount and frequency, and never share or sell your medication to others. Keep in touch with your doctor and report to them any unwanted effects.

Secure your medications: Keep your medications in a secure location to prevent others from accessing them. This is particularly important if you have children or teenagers in your household, who may be curious or experiment with medications.

Seek help if needed: If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, seek professional help. There are many resources available, including counseling, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and can help you overcome addiction and stay safe.

How is Drug Addiction Treated?

Drug addiction is a complex condition that requires specialized treatment. The most effective approach to treating drug addiction typically involves a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.

Behavioral therapies can help individuals identify and change their patterns of drug use, and develop coping strategies to prevent relapse. There are several types of behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and motivational interviewing.

Medications can also be used to manage the symptoms of drug addiction and aid in recovery. For example, medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are commonly used to treat opioid addiction, while medications such as acamprosate and disulfiram can be used to treat alcohol addiction.

In addition to these treatments, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide individuals with a community of like-minded individuals who are also in recovery, and can offer support and guidance as they navigate their path to recovery.

Ultimately, the most effective treatment plan for drug addiction will depend on the individual and their unique circumstances, and should be developed in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.

Look for an addiction treatment center near you today to learn more about the various treatment options that are available to you. Get started on your road to recovery today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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