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Workers with back injuries becoming addicted to painkillers

Workers in Maryland very often suffer from back injuries due to the nature of their job. Sometimes these back injuries develop after an accident, sometimes it is due to a lack of training regarding proper lifting techniques and other times the back injury is the aggravation of a preexisting condition.

In many instances, these injured workers will be prescribed an opioid in order to manage the pain. Doctors are increasingly prescribing opioids long-term for back pain, even though this not recommended by several medical boards.

A medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “There’s an awful lot of back injuries in the workers’ comp population and subsequent surgery related to back problems, and back pain is one of the most common indications now of use of opioids in the United States.” The epidemiologist says these prescriptions are being handed out more frequently and for longer periods.

The risk here is clear and unfortunately, many of these injured workers in Maryland and elsewhere are becoming addicted to these painkillers. Across the country, an estimated 40,000 victims die of drug overdoses every year, over half of which are from prescription drug overdoses. These overdoses are not just young kids with a habit; a large population of these individuals is middle-aged, possibly workers looking to curb their pain from a work injury.

It is important that injured worker are given the appropriate long-term treatment for injuries, and allotted adequate time to recuperate. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist a worker in securing coverage for medical expenses and supplementing lost wages following a workplace injury.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Opioid Epidemic Plagues Workers' Comp," Denise Johnson and Don Jergler, May 17, 2013

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