Why This Is Important Many strategies and options exist to treat chronic noncancer pain. Since chronic pain is not a single entity but may have myriad causes and perpetuating factors, these strategies and options vary from behavioral methods and rehabilitation approaches to the use of a number of different medications, including opioids. Pain is one of the most common reasons people consult a physician, yet it frequently is inadequately treated, leading to enormous social cost in the form of lost productivity, needless suffering, and excessive healthcare expenditures. Impediments to the use of opioids include concerns about addiction, respiratory depression and other side effects, tolerance, diversion, and fear of regulatory action. State law and policy about opioid use are currently undergoing revision. The trend is to adopt laws or guidelines that specifically recognize the use of opioids to treat intractable pain. These statements serve as indicators of increased public awareness of the sequelae of undertreated pain and help clarify that the use of opioids for the relief of chronic pain is a legitimate medical practice. Due to concerns about regulatory scrutiny, physicians need guidance as to what principles should generally be followed when prescribing opioids for chronic or recurrent pain states. Regulators have also expressed a need for guidelines to help them to distinguish legitimate medical practice from questionable practice and to allow them to appropriately concentrate investigative, educational, and disciplinary efforts, while not interfering with legitimate medical care.