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  • Dentists
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dental Assisting
Hours: 3 Contact Hours
  • Marnie Oakley, DMD
  • Jean O’Donnell, DMD, MSN
  • Michael A. Zemaitis, PhD
Peer Reviewer(s): Wayne McElhiney, DPh, DDS
Item#: L0743
Contents: 1 Course Book (66 pages)
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Prescription Drug Abuse Among Dental Patients: Scope, Prevention, and Management Considerations, Updated 1st Edition - 3 Hours

Price $29.95
Item # L0743
When available, the Online Course format is included with the hard copy, eBook, or audio book formats!

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Review Date: June 7, 2016

Expiration Date: June 6, 2019


Abuse of prescription drugs has increased so dramatically in the United States that it has been labeled a national epidemic. For dental patients, pain is often an unavoidable sequela to invasive dental procedures and untreated or long-standing oral disease. Balancing the desire to alleviate pain against the suspicion that the patient may be a drug seeker is just one of the issues that confront dental providers. The patient’s past medical, dental, and social history; current history; chief complaint; and history of prescription drug use all contribute to the impression received by the dental provider. How the dental provider manages this information is critical to the result of the visit and subsequent outcome for the patient.

The purpose of this basic-level course is to provide dental providers with an appreciation of the scope of the problem of prescription drug abuse and a realization that the misuse and abuse of these drugs likely take place among the patient populations they serve. By becoming familiar with the pharmacology of the most commonly abused drugs, the risk factors for developing addictive behaviors, and the manner in which these medications are commonly acquired, dental providers will be positioned to curb prescribing practices that contribute to this growing problem and will be better able to serve their patients and their communities as informed prevention advocates. The information provided in this course is applicable to all dental team members, regardless of their practice setting or scope of practice. The information is of interest to dental team members in private practice, academic institutions, military service positions, hospitals, and community health centers.


AGD Subject Code: 157

Western Schools designates this activity for 3 continuing education credits.



This course is an extract of, and should not be taken in conjunction with, L0852 - Prescription Drug Abuse Among Dental Patients: Scope, Prevention, and Management Considerations, Updated 1st Edition (2 contact hours).




Course Objectives

  • Describe the history and scope of prescription drug abuse and the role of the dental professional.
  • Define the terminology used in discussing prescription drug abuse.
  • Explain the pharmacology, physiology, and regulatory control of the prescription drugs that are most commonly abused and the extent and impact of their nonmedical use.
  • Describe the populations most at risk for abusing prescription drugs and their access to these drugs.
  • Discuss the tactics and resources available to manage and prevent prescription drug abuse in the dental practice.

Marnie Oakley, DMD, is the associate dean of clinical affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, from which she received her DMD in 1992. Dr. Oakley served in both active duty and reserve roles as a dental officer in the United States Navy. As an experienced educator, she has taught numerous courses related to clinical dentistry, including Oral Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, Clinical Restorative Dentistry, and the Clinical Responsibility course series. In addition to being a published author and presenter on the subject of prescription drug abuse, Dr. Oakley was responsible for the development and implementation of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Comprehensive Care Program. Dr. Oakley also served as Chair of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session Planning Committee for two consecutive years, for which she received a Presidential Citation. She served in officer positions in several ADEA committees and groups. Dr. Oakley maintains membership in numerous professional organizations including the American Dental Association (ADA), Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA), Western Pennsylvania Dental Association (WPDA), Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and the Academy of General Dentistry. 

Jean O’Donnell, DMD, MSN, is the associate dean for for academic affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, from which she received her DMD in 1990. Within the same institution, she is an associate professor in the department of Restorative Dentistry and Comprehensive Care. Dr. O’Donnell holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Leadership Institute and currently serves as one of the university’s liaisons to the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education. She is a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon. Prescription drug abuse and tobacco cessation are among Dr. O’Donnell’s special interests.

Michael A. Zemaitis, PhD, holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a PhD in pharmacology. He is a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, and he teaches in the professional and graduate programs in the School of Pharmacy and the School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Zemaitis’s current area of research interest is biochemical pharmacology, with a special interest in drug and metabolite analysis in biological fluids. He actively supports several pharmacy-related policy issues, including the establishment of a prescription drug monitoring program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania designed to reduce drug diversion and abuse, and “Project Life Line,” a program to have community pharmacies provide the narcotic antidote naloxone to high-risk opiate users to prevent overdose deaths.

Wayne McElhiney, DPh, DDS, is a 1966 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and a 1974 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He maintained a private practice for 25 years and is currently director of the Wellness Committee of the Tennessee Dental Association. Dr. McElhiney is a member of NAADAC, the Association of Addiction Professionals, and he serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Utah School on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies. In 2012-2013, he served as a consultant for the American Dental Association Counsel on Dental Practice. He serves as a consultant for the Drug Formulating and Pain Regimen for Alive Hospice in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. McElhiney is a noted lecturer and published author and is currently involved in teaching the disease concept of addiction at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, the University of Tennessee College of Dental Hygiene, and Tennessee State University College of Dental Hygiene.

  • Courses must be completed on or before the expiration date noted in the course description above.
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that the course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support.
  • All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.
  • There are no prerequisites for this course.