Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain-One Therapeutic Approach for the Opioid Epidemic

J Psychiatr Pract. 2017 Nov;23(6):409-414. doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000262.


Opioids are frequently prescribed for chronic pain. For the past 2 decades, long-term opioid analgesic therapy was considered the cornerstone of effective pain management for chronic nonmalignant conditions, despite a lack of documented effectiveness and safety, with the attendant risk of addiction, overdose, and death. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used effectively to treat chronic pain, either as a stand-alone treatment or with other nonopioid pharmacological treatments. CBT improves pain-related outcomes along with mobility, quality of life, and disability and mood outcomes. Compared with long-term use of opioids, CBT has dramatically lower risks and may therefore be worth pursuing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain* / psychology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Quality of Life*


  • Analgesics, Opioid