Pharmacology of Opioids


To respond to our national opioid epidemic, health care professionals need to have a strong foundation to about the pharmacology of opioids. According to Price et al. (2021) there is a lack of information about healthcare provider exposure to opioid education information. 


Health care professionals can use knowledge about the pharmacology of opioids as the groundwork for numerous opioid content areas. These area of content include topics such as safe and appropriate prescribing and deprescribing, education for communities and patients, laws about naloxone prescribing and dispensing (Renfro, et al. 2020), pressures to prescribe (Saffore, et al. 2020), public health and policy interventions (Aronowitz, et al. 2021), socio-economic vulnerabilities (Blue, et al. 2021), patient-provider communication about pain management alternatives and opioid risks (Kalinowski et al. (2020), pharmacist services and roles (e.g., counseling on risks, naloxone dispensing, opioid storage and disposal, prescription drug monitoring programs, and providing addiction treatment resources (Tanvee, T., Frey, F., & Chewning B. 2019).

With the COVID pandemic, the need for healthcare providers to respond to the opioid epidemic is even greater. For example, one study found an increase in overdose related cardiac deaths that totaled 49.5 per 100,000 emergency medical service activations, which was 48.5% over their baseline (Fried, J., Beletsky, L., & Schriger, D. L. 2020). This course provides the foundation of pharmacology for addressing the complex issues related to opioids.


This activity is designed for advance practice providers, pharmacists, nurses, and other prescribers working in all healthcare settings.


  1. Describe clinical use(s), mechanism(s) of action, and therapeutic and adverse effects of opioids
  2. Translate pharmacological principles and apply them in your practice


This educational activity is designed to change learner competence and focuses on the following competency areas:

  • The American Board of Medical Specialties: Medical Knowledge

  • Institute of Medicine: Employing Evidence-Based Practice

  • Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education: Medication Use

  • Nursing and Interprofessional: Roles and Responsibilities

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.25 AAPA Category 1 CME
  • 1.25 ACPE Contact Hours - Pharmacist
  • 1.25 ANCC Contact Hours
    • 0.75 ANCC Pharmacotherapy Contact Hours
  • 1.25 University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Education Hours
Registration opens: 
Course expires: 


Sara Hassan, B.Pharm, MS, PhD
Sara Hassan, B.Pharm, MS, PhD

Sara is a pharmacist and teaches pharmacology for the PharmD students at the school of Pharmacy, UW–Madison. She got her pharmacy degree from Egypt. She practiced as a registered pharmacist in several community pharmacies in Cairo. Sara then joined the academic faculty of the clinical pharmacy department in the school of pharmacy, Ain Shams University. She taught for three years several courses including pharmacotherapy, pharmacokinetics, pharmacy practice, biostatistics and pathophysiology. Sara did a fellowship in Cardiovascular Clinical Research which involved pursuing several clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of different drugs in patients suffering from heart failure and acute coronary syndrome. Sara then started her graduate studies through the American University in Cairo. She did her masters at UT-Southwestern, Dallas, TX. Her research involved identifying new regulators of telomeres maintenance, in addition to studying different regulators of DNA damage and repair. She then joined Bruce Spiegelman's lab at Harvard Medical School, where she did her PhD in brown fat metabolism and obesity. She graduated in April 2017 and joined the pharmaceutical sciences department in September 2017. 


*Sue Gaard, MS, RN
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Nursing
**Paul Hutson, PharmD, MS
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Pharmacy
Kristen Panther, NP
UW Health, Department of Medicine
Eric Buxton, PhD, BS
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Pharmacy
Krista Morin, PA-C
UW Health, BerbeeWalsch Department of Emergency Medicine
Diane Reinfeldt, DNP, RN, CNE
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Nursing
Allison Henke, BSN, RN
UW Health, Regional Services
Tracy Mrochek, MPA, RN
University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Nursing

* Course chair, **Expert Reviewer,


It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Interprofessional Continuing Education Partnership (ICEP) to identify, mitigate and disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies* held by the speakers/presenters, authors, planners, and other persons who may influence content of this accredited continuing education (CE). In addition, speakers, presenters and authors must disclose any planned discussion of unlabeled/unapproved uses of drugs or devices during their presentation. 

For this accredited continuing education activity all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated and detailed disclosures are listed below.

* Ineligible companies are those whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on, patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical services directly to patients to be ineligible companies.

The University of Wisconsin provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX requirements. The University of Wisconsin fully complies with the legal requirements of the ADA and the rules and regulations thereof. If any participant in this educational activity is in need of accommodations, please contact

Discloser List CME Internal Report

Accreditation Statement

In support of improving patient care, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Interprofessional Continuing Education Partnership (ICEP) is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Credit Designation Statements

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP designates the enduring program for a maximum of 1.25 ANCC contact hours, 1.25 of which are eligible for ANCC Pharmacotherapy contact hours. Iowa Board of Nursing accepts ANCC contact hours for nursing continuing education requirements.

AAPA Credit Designation Statement

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP has been authorized by the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) to award AAPA Category 1 CME credit for activities planned in accordance with AAPA CME Criteria. This activity is designated for 1.25 AAPA Category 1 CME credits. Approval is valid until January 27th, 2025. PAs should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation.

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP designates this enduring activity for 1.25 hours of CPE credit. Credit can be earned by successfully completing the activity. Credit will be provided to NABP CPE Monitor within 60 days after the activity completion.

 UAN: JA0000358-0000-22-040-H01-P

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ICEP, as a member of the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), authorizes this program for .125 CEUs or 1.25 hours. 


Available Credit

  • 1.25 AAPA Category 1 CME
  • 1.25 ACPE Contact Hours - Pharmacist
  • 1.25 ANCC Contact Hours
    • 0.75 ANCC Pharmacotherapy Contact Hours
  • 1.25 University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Education Hours

Please login or register to take this course.

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