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Opioid use declining among workers' compensation recipients

A worker who suffers a serious injury that prevents him or her from being able to perform the duties of his or her job is in a precarious situation. This individual has lost the ability to earn a living. This is where state workers' compensation programs come in to provide the necessary financial support that ensures the worker gets appropriate medical care to heal from the injuries, and ensures the worker has sufficient money to cover living expenses while recovering.

However, there is a very frightening problem in the United States that relates workers' compensation being used to pay for opioid pain medications to injured workers. Although these medicines can help relieve pain associated with injuries, and they are often prescribed by doctors for that purpose, opioids are dangerously addictive. What happens is, after workers recover from their initial injuries, they face a far graver problem: addiction. Unfortunately, the lives of countless workers have been destroyed due to the prescription of dangerously addictive opioid pain medications.

The good news is that a national push to combat the abuse of opioids has shown signs of success. A 25-state study reveals that from 2009 through 2014, the prescribing of opioids has declined. That said, the study indicates that New Jersey still has a long way to go. As it stands, even though New Jersey has a lower amount of opioid prescriptions compared to other states in the study, 56 percent of workers' compensation recipients on pain medication are taking opioids.

New Jersey recipients of workers' compensation may want to think hard about whether they should take opioid pain medication -- even if they are prescribed the medication by their doctors. All workers are encouraged to use their prescribed medications carefully and responsibly.

Source: CNBC, "Big drop in opioids being given out to workers in some states: study," Dan Mangan, June 10, 2016

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