Position Statement

Non-Narcotic Analgesics
Enacted: Jan 1993

Drugs impact many aspects of community-based corrections by compounding the inherent problems of this type of complex service delivery. With so much of the criminal and juvenile justice system's focus on the identification and treatment of offenders, post-treatment issues and strategies such as the role of probation and parole in relapse prevention have not been fully explored. Within the area of relapse prevention, one such issue is the use of prescription narcotic analgesics by recovering offenders or by offenders undergoing treatment for their addiction(s).

A number of non-narcotic analgesics have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the effective treatment of pain. These prescribed medications avoid the addictive problems of narcotics. although a variety of these non-narcotic analgesics are available, cost containment practices for Medicaid recipients by certain states encourage physicians to prescribe narcotics instead of non-narcotic analgesics. As a significant number of offenders in drug rehabilitation programs are eligible for Medicaid benefits, many could fall into a prior authorization program which restricts the use of non-narcotic pain medications and leads to the use of prescribed narcotics. This eventuality reflects neither good common sense nor good public policy.


The American Probation and Parole Association supports the appropriate use of non-narcotic analgesics wherever possible. Restrictions on their use should be eliminated, allowing such treatment to be prescribed by a physician. Staff should counsel with addicted offenders to inform their health care physicians of their addictions and request non-narcotic analgesics if pain relievers are necessary to their treatment.

Recommended Action

The APPA supports training efforts which educate probation and parole professionals, primary care physicians and drug treatment personnel about the problems inherent in the use of prescribed narcotics by addicted offenders to combat pain. Efforts should be made to educate criminal justice and health professionals about the availability of non-narcotic analgesics as an alternative to narcotics for addicted offenders.