The problem of abuse of and addiction to opioid analgesics has emerged as a major issue for the United States in the past decade and has worsened over the past few years. The increases in abuse of these opioids appear to reflect, in part, changes in medication prescribing practices, changes in drug formulations as well as relatively easy access via the internet. Though the use of opioid analgesics for the treatment of acute pain appears to be generally benign, long-term administration of opioids has been associated with clinically meaningful rates of abuse or addiction. Important areas of research to help with the problem of opioid analgesic abuse include the identification of clinical practices that minimize the risks of addiction, the development of guidelines for early detection and management of addiction, the development of opioid analgesics that minimize the risks for abuse, and the development of safe and effective non-opioid analgesics. With high rates of abuse of opiate analgesics among teenagers in the United States, a particularly urgent priority is the investigation of best practices for treating pain in adolescents as well as the development of prevention strategies to reduce diversion and abuse.