Opioids used to treat chronic pain should be prescribed at the lowest possible effective dose so that possible problems can be avoided, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although these meds are helpful for alleviating pain, their overuse is fueling an epidemic, warns CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D.

“The guideline will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment,” he said.

By using the guideline, which was released Tuesday, caregivers can determine if and when to start opioids to treat chronic pain. The guideline also offers specific information on medication selection, dosage, duration, and when and how to reassess progress and discontinue medication when needed. In all, the guidance includes a  dozen recommendations.