Healthcare Provider Education

MAHEC provides programs throughout the year to educate healthcare providers about safe controlled substance prescribing, non-opioid treatments for chronic pain, medication-assisted treatment, and evidence-based therapies for opioid and substance use disorders.

At one time, there was concern that chronic pain, a condition affecting millions of Americans, was undertreated, and the medical profession was encouraged to address pain as a “fifth vital sign.” This increased focus on chronic pain combined with the introduction of powerful new opioid medications may have inadvertently contributed to the current opioid epidemic.

What doctors didn’t know then, but we know today, is that the risk for dependence and addiction to opioids increases every day even when taken as prescribed.

Opioids can be helpful for acute pain when used carefully for very short periods of time. With the exception of cancer-related and end-of-life pain, opioids have not been shown to be effective for chronic pain and may actually increase pain when used long term—a process known as chemical sensitization.

Unfortunately, many patients and healthcare providers are unaware of the risks associated with opioids or that there are more effective and safer alternatives for chronic pain management and some forms of acute pain.

MAHEC provides a variety of continuing education programs throughout the year to address this gap in knowledge and to provide training for healthcare professionals who support individuals struggling with opioid and substance use disorders.

Educational programs for physicians, residents, physician assistants, nurses, and behavioral health professionals include

  • continuing medical education required for prescribing controlled substances
  • safe opioid prescribing to prevent dependency and overdoses
  • buprenorphine waiver training through AAAP
  • implementing office-based opioid treatment in a primary care setting
  • behavioral health strategies for chronic pain and substance use disorders
  • evidence-based, non-opioid treatments for chronic pain, insomnia, and other challenging health condition
  • medication-assisted treatment training, curricular support, and technical assistance for NC residency programs

These programs are offered on our main campus in Asheville, across the region, online, and through Project ECHO®, a live videoconference training platform.

MAHEC also has a speaker’s bureau with medical and substance use disorder experts who are available to support community education and awareness efforts across Western North Carolina.

For more information about upcoming opioid or substance use education or to request a community speaker, please contact us at 828-257-4400 or