Opioid Addiction and Workers’ Compensation

When an Atlanta worker is injured, they can file for Georgia Workers’ Compensation benefits to be compensated for their injuries. One of the essential components necessary for worker recovery is medical treatment, which often includes the prescribing of medications. Amongst the most popularly prescribed drugs are opioids, used to relieve pain. In fact, 75 percent of Georgia workers’ compensation claims that involve pain medications included opioids. While these types of drugs are successful at treating pain, there is a very real downside and opioid abuse has become an epidemic. If you are an Atlanta worker that has been injured or has questions regarding medical benefits and prescription drugs, it is important to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney.

Opioid Addiction and Workers’ Compensation

Opioids reduce the intensity of pain signals that reach the brain, thus lowering the effects of pain stimulus. They also affect the areas of the brain that control emotion. While the drugs are meant simply as short-term painkillers, many thousands of workers become addicted and continue using these prescription drugs for long periods of time. Much of the problem lies in that opioids have been and still are over utilized and over prescribed for injuries. Typically doctors will recommend opioids to injured workers for three main reasons:
  1. When injuries are considered catastrophic or there is chronic pain;
  2. If injuries involve surgical treatment and require immediate pain control; or/and
  3. Cases necessitating general pain control.
Widespread addiction to opioids takes a toll on both employers and workers. It is not uncommon for workers who become addicted to begin having problems at work and being unable to perform their regular work duties. As a result, they lose their employment. Opioids also make up a significant portion of the costs associated with workers’ compensation, accounting for roughly three percent of costs on short term claims and as much as 15-20 percent of medical costs on long term claims. Another issue is that opioid abuse can go undetected for extended periods of time. While many employers have drug tests, very few ever test for prescription drug abuse. Studies have also shown that the higher stature a worker has, the less likely they are to be forced into recovery. Legal professionals, for instance, have addiction rates twice as high as the general population.

Searching for Solutions

One of the big problems with opioid abuse is that much of the law must be decided by individual state legislatures. For many states, it is still a matter of catching up and implementing policing methods to prevent the overutilization of opioids by medical professionals treating patients. The pharmaceutical industry is also searching for replacements to opioids. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug implant that would combat the effects of opioid addiction. This solution, of course, could equate to higher costs for workers’ compensation payers if the implant is used as long-term pain management.

Help With Workers’ Compensation

If you are an Atlanta worker that is struggling with opioid addiction as part of a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to get help. Consult with one of the attorneys at Workers Compensation Lawyers to find out what your options for medical benefits are. Call for a consultation today.]]>