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The relationship between workplace injuries and opioid addiction

It is no secret that the U.S. is going through an opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, the number of overdose deaths from opioids increased six-fold in 2017 in contrast to 1999. Out of all drug overdose fatalities, 68% were from prescription and illegal opioids.

Various demographics use these drugs and acquire them through different means. As an injured worker, one source you need to be aware of is prescription painkillers.

The risks of using prescription opioids

These meds are effective at what they do, but they come with serious risks. One of them is addiction, as these substances have a very high rate of dependency. Addiction can lead not only to health problems, but also to consequences in all areas of life. In severe cases, it can result in death from overdose.

Even without addiction, the National Safety Council shares that improper prescribing (handing out more than one painkiller prescription or supply of longer than a week) contributes to doubling the risk of workers having a disability a year after the injury occurred.

Legal accountability for harm

Some courts allow for holding employers and insurance providers responsible for overdose fatalities. The reasoning is that without the injury, there would not have been a need for painkillers, and without the prescription, there would have been no overdose.

Ways to protect yourself

When you sustain an injury on the job, talk to your doctor about your options for managing pain. If opioids are absolutely necessary, discuss how to make the treatment plan as safe as possible, such as by limiting the length of the prescription and only using one medication at a time. Go over the risks of addiction and what to do if you begin to develop a tolerance. Working together with your employer and insurer can help you get the right treatment, as opioid abuse increases the costs of workers' compensation claims, something accountable parties want to avoid.

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