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Does workers' compensation increase risk of an opioid addiction?

A recent study has found that the opioid epidemic is greatly affecting Maryland employees who are receiving workers' compensation. Nearly one third of Maryland employees who were prescribed opioids while out on workers' compensation filled the prescription more than 90 days from the date of injury. The study sites that 90 days of opioid use is the definition of persistent use.

What the study found was that certain workers were more likely to become a persistent user of their prescribed opioid.

Who is most at risk?

After studying a sample of nearly 10,000 Maryland workers' compensation claimants, researchers determined that the following factors increased a workers' risk for dependence:

  • Age 60 or older
  • Earned at least $60,000
  • Suffered strain, sprain or crush injuries

There is some talk of intervention efforts to help this population navigate pain management in safe and healthy ways.

The dangers of opioids

Opioid use has risen to the level of a national crisis. In Maryland, opioid overdoses rose nearly 15 percent in the first six months of 2018. Of the 1,325 people who lost their battle with drugs, 90 percent were addicted to prescription drugs.

What resources are available?

If you fit any of the above-mentioned risk factors, it would be in your best interest to voice concerns with your prescribing physician ahead of time. They may be able to suggest alternate pain management tools or help you design a plan to minimize the amount of time you use the painkiller.

Whether you are concerned about becoming addicted, or you already are, Maryland has resources that can help including, overdose prevention information, treatment locators, a crisis hotline, and information about where to find prescription medications that reverse opioid overdoses.

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