What you'll learn

  • Medical and non-medical use of opioids, including heroin and fentanyl

  • How to manage pain with and without opioids

  • The risks and neurological pathways to opioid addiction

  • That addiction is a disease of the brain, not a lack of will


  • The multiple ways people can become addicted to opioids

  • The latest harm reduction approaches for law enforcement and public health officials

Course description

On average, 130 Americans die every day from an overdose of opioids, the class of drugs that includes heroin, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. Around 70% of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States — opioid addiction is driving this epidemic.

In this course, you'll learn about the origins and spread of this epidemic. Our experts will cover the appropriate ways this class of drugs should be used, but we will also explore the impact of opioid misuse on the individual, family, and community. You’ll hear about effective medical treatments for addiction and how to reduce the stigma that exists around addiction. You’ll learn how to help prevent overdose deaths and explore the multiple pathways to recovery.

Join us to confront this epidemic with a broad perspective of the causes, effects, and solutions to the opioid crisis. After learning about harm-reduction approaches and evidence-based interventions to prevent addiction and support recovery, you will be equipped to confront the opioid epidemic. 

This course is available for Continuing Education credit. Enroll in the course to learn more about options for earning credit.

Course Outline

How has opioid misuse evolved and spread? Why is this a public health crisis in America?

Are opioids "bad" drugs, or are there appropriate ways to use them?

What counts as misuse and what can happen when you misuse opioids?

How does opioid addiction affect an individual, their family, and the community?

How can opioid overdose be treated and prevented?

How can opioid misuse and addiction be treated?

What does the process of long-term recovery from opioid addiction look like?



Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University
Deputy Editor, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard University

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