As a workers’ compensation firm, our goal is to help you get the compensation you deserve for a work injury, but we also want to ensure you are physically able to recover from the injury. We work closely with doctors who prescribe treatment options, and it’s no surprise that painkillers are often prescribed to help a worker control their pain while they recover. Unfortunately, as you’ve probably seen in the news, rates of opioid and prescription painkiller abuse continue to rise in the United States. Today, we take a closer look at opioid abuse after work injuries, and what to do if you believe you’re starting down a slippery slope with your pain pills.
Opioid Abuse After A Work Injury
As we mentioned above, prescriptions for opioids after a work injury are extremely common. For example, a recent workers’ compensation survey revealed that more than $1.5 billion was spent on opioids by workers’ compensation insurance companies in 2015 alone. Moreover, prescriptions for injured workers accounted for 13 percent of the total opioid pharmacy costs in the US in the same year. When asked what their most pressing concern about the findings were, the most common answer submitted by workers’ compensation insurance companies was not the total cost – it was the potential for abuse and addiction.
A number of clients who we’ve helped earn compensation for their injuries are prescribed some type of painkiller to help with their pain, and the vast majority use these correctly and do not become addicted. However, for some people, when their work injury lingers they find themselves upping their dosage to compensate for their pain. Soon enough, they are overmedicating and need that dosage just to make it through the day. It’s a slippery slope, but there are ways to find steady ground and beat a painkiller addiction after a work injury.
Steps To Take To Avoid Opioid Abuse After A Work Injury
Everyone’s situation is unique, so while some of these tips may not pertain to your situation, a few probably do, and they can help you if you’re battling a painkiller addiction following a work injury.
- Be Open With Your Doctor – If you’ve battled an addiction in the past, or you fear that you may be susceptible to addiction, explain your concerns to your doctor. They may not have all the information about your history with painkillers or other substances and may unknowingly prescribe a drug that starts you on that slippery slope. If you’re concerned about your dosage intake after the fact, express these concerns to your doctor so they can adjust your prescription accordingly.
- Ask For Extended Release – Painkiller manufacturers have developed drugs with abuse-deterrent tendencies, like anti-crush pills or extended release options (to prevent a more intense high at the outset). Ask for abuse deterrent options if you are worried about taking a painkiller.
- Destroy Your Extras – Maybe you have no problem weening off painkillers, but a co-worker or friend who heard about your injury may ask if you’re interested in selling your extra pills. Not only is this highly illegal, but you can face criminal charges if that person abuses the pills. It may seem tempting to sell your extras for cash, but the potential consequences do not outweigh the short-term benefits, so destroy any extras or drop them off at a pharmacy.
- Talk With Your Workers’ Compensation Attorney – It will be much easier to get in contact with your workers’ compensation lawyer than your doctor, and they can help you if you have any concerns over your painkiller intake. We’ve helped direct clients to addiction services and substance counselors in the past, and we can do the same for you because our goal is to help you in any way possible.
If you have any concerns over your opioid intake after a work injury, or you just want to talk with someone about your workers’ compensation case, reach out to Dean Margolis today.