DEA’s new opioid training mandate: What you need to know

March 28, 2023
Doctors of optometry applying for a DEA registration after June 27, 2023, must attest to a new eight-hour education and training requirement for substance abuse identification and treatment. Consult the AOA’s FAQ about these new licensing requirements.
Graphic of DEA web page

Doctors of optometry and other physicians are bound by new, federal training and education requirements intended to expand access to and treatment of opioid use disorders.

Taking effect on June 27, 2023, all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered practitioners will be required to attest that they have met an eight-hour training requirement on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders. Doctors must attest to having met this one-time training requirement on the date of the practitioner’s next scheduled DEA registration submission, regardless of whether it is an initial registration or a renewal. Once indicating affirmation, doctors will not be required to attest on future registration renewals.

The new training and education mandate comes as a result of Congress’ December 2022 approval of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, wherein lawmakers eliminated previous requirements that physicians must first obtain a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine. Such prescriptions will now only require a standard, DEA registration number instead of the previously used DATA-Waiver (or X-Waiver) registration numbers. The new law also removes limits or patient caps on the number of patients a prescriber may treat for opioid use disorder with buprenorphine.

Since December, the DEA and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have worked to develop additional guidance to physicians with the AOA advocating on behalf of optometry. Such is the case, the AOA offers the following guidance for doctors of optometry to prepare to meet this federal requirement.

When will these requirements take effect?

Anyone applying for a DEA registration after June 27, 2023, will be required to attest to taking education and training related to substance abuse identification and treatment.

What courses can I take to meet these requirements?

The Providers Clinical Support System has created the “Substance Use Disorder 101 Core Curriculum,” comprised of 23 modules that can be used for doctors to meet the eight-hour DEA education and training requirement. Developed by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the curriculum provides an overview of evidence-based practices in the prevention, identification and treatment of substance use disorders and co-occuring medical and psychiatric conditions. Each stand-alone module is available at no cost; registration is required to access these modules. When asked to identify your profession, select “other” and indicate optometry.

My state already requires an opioid training course; does that count toward these new federal requirements?

If doctors’ state program is approved by the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education  or the Commission for Continuing Education Provider Recognition then it will satisfy the federal requirements.

We understand many state courses are not approved by one of the bodies noted above. We are actively working to have state association developed coursework to be recognized by the DEA. If doctors are unsure whether their state’s course fulfills the federal requirement, please contact the AOA.

Will I be required to submit a course completion certificate to the DEA?

No, the DEA will ask that doctors simply attest to completion of the substance abuse education and training. Beginning on June 27, 2023, doctors will be required to check a box on their online DEA registration form—regardless of whether a registrant is completing their initial registration application or renewing—affirming they have completed the requirement. Doctors will not be required to provide certificates of completion; however, the AOA strongly recommends retaining any documentation or certificates for your own records.

Does the AOA have an educational course I can take?

The AOA is currently working with the DEA to develop an approved course for doctors of optometry. The course will be available within the AOA EyeLearn Professional Development Hub and will be announced when available.

I have previously taken related education approved by one of the recognized bodies, so does that count toward the DEA education and training requirement?

Yes, related education approved by one of the aforementioned bodies and taken prior to Congress’ action in December 2022 can count toward the doctor’s eight-hour requirement.

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