Cracking the DEA’s New Controlled Substances Continuing Education Requirements

Opioid Continuing Education

The DEA is implementing a new controlled substance prescribing continuing education requirement scheduled to go live on June 27th, 2023 with a focus on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. This training requirement is another step in supporting best practices in care related to opioid prescribing practices and management of substance use disorders as the United States continues to wage war on the opioid epidemic.

Some may say this is a long time coming as the latest data tells us there are more than 2.1 million people in this country challenged by some form of opioid use disorder. Safe prescribing practices and a strong understanding of both the short- and long-term opioid effects on patients are critical to improving outcomes.

With this education, DEA-registered practitioners will be further supported in responsible and safe controlled substance prescribing practices. Here is some key information to help answer your questions and demystify the DEA’s new requirement.

Who Does this Requirement Affect?

Generally speaking, this requirement includes any DEA-registered practitioner with the exception of those who work solely in veterinary medicine. In other words, any healthcare practitioner registered with the DEA who has a federally required DEA number to be allowed to prescribe any controlled substance needs to know about this requirement.

Who Has Already Satisfied the Requirement?

This requirement includes, but does not affect, certain DEA-registered practitioners who are deemed to have already satisfied this one-time requirement. For example, practitioners who have fulfilled this training as a component of their core education would not need to repeat the opioid continuing education. Those who have already satisfied the requirement would include:

  • Practitioners who are board certified in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry from the American Osteopathic Association, American Board of Medical Specialties, or the  American Board of Addiction Medicine.
  • Practitioners who graduated in good standing from a medical (allopathic or osteopathic), dental, physician assistant, or advanced practice nursing school in the United States within five years of June 27, 2023, and successfully completed a comprehensive curriculum that included at least eight hours of training on treating and managing patients with opioid or other substance use disorders.

Who Has Not Satisfied the Requirement?

Any DEA-registered practitioner who is not included in one of the above-identified groups is not considered to have completed the controlled substances continuing education requirements, and must do so by their DEA initial application or renewal date. This includes:

  • Anyone who went to school more than five years in the past 
  • Anyone who is not a physician specializing in addiction medicine

If you don’t qualify, have no fear! The requirements are pretty straightforward and documentation of having completed the opioid continuing education is simple. 

How to Satisfy the Controlled Substances Prescribing Continuing Education Requirement

For starters, the DEA’s soon-to-be-required controlled substances prescribing continuing education is a one-time requirement, and needs to include a minimum of 8 hours of education on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. This training can come in any combination of a variety of formats such as online coursework, in-person lectures, or even professional organization or society meetings.

The education does not need to be completed in one sitting and can be accrued over time as long as it is done before your next DEA license initial or renewal application. Although no tangible proof of education is required at this time, it would be a good idea to keep track of dates and times as you accrue the education for your records.

Here is some more good news! Past training you may have attended on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders can count. As long as the training was offered by an accredited provider of continuing education, you can count that towards your total of 8 hours of opioid continuing education.

What’s the Process for Proof of Training?

Regardless of whether or not this is your initial or a renewal DEA registration application while completing the online application form, there will be a simple box to check indicating that you have completed the education.

By checking this box, you are attesting to having completed the one-time opioid continuing education requirement. At the present time, you will only be asked to attest to having completed the required education and there is no mention of an auditing process to validate attestations against proof of completion. The agency may check for certificates of completion when investigating a prescriber for other infractions, however. 

Know if You Need to Complete the DEAs New Opioid Continuing Education Requirement

Required education on the treatment and management of opioid or other substance use disorders is a great step in the direction of solidifying safe and effective opioid practice in the United States.

The DEA opioid continuing education requirements include 8 hours of instruction that can in part be satisfied by courses like Safe Opiate Prescribing, Chronic Pain: Therapies, Treatment, and Management Options, and The Latest on Ketamine and Esketamine for Treatment Resistant Depression offered by Premiere. All online courses by Premiere are created by industry-leading professionals in the field. These courses were developed by Mary Ellen Biggerstaff, DNP, MPH, FNP, and Assistant Professor at Frontier Nursing University, and Kathy Gardner, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CNM, CNE, and faculty at Frontier Nursing University.

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