Dying on Hospice in the Midst of an Opioid Crisis: What Should We Do Now?

Jennifer Gabbard, Allison Jordan, Julie Mitchell, Mark Corbett, Patrick White, Julie Childers

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

19 Scopus citations


The current opioid crisis in the United States is a major problem facing health-care providers, even at the end of life. Opioids continue to be the mainstay treatment for pain at the end of life, with the prevalence of pain reported in up to 80% of patients and tends to increase as one gets closer toward the end of life. In the past year, 20.2 million Americans had a substance use disorder (SUD) and SUDs are disabling disorders that largely go untreated. In addition, the coexistence of both a mental health and SUD is very common with the use of opioids often as a means of chemical coping. Most hospice programs do not have standardized SUD policies/guidelines in place despite the increasing concerns about substance abuse within the United States. The goal of this article is to review the literature on this topic and offer strategies on how to manage pain in patients who have active SUD or who are at risk for developing SUD in those dying on hospice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • addiction
  • end-of-life care
  • hospice care
  • opioid-related disorders
  • opioids
  • pain management
  • palliative care
  • substance-related disorders


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