Opioids have become an epidemic nationwide, affecting the lives of thousands of injured workers and their families. The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute looked at opioid use in 21 states. They found that Pennsylvania and New York had the most injured workers who were prescribed opioids and then became long-term users. It is when short-term use becomes long-term use that the chances of addiction increase.
Back injuries seem to be the most prevalent occupational injury across all industries. Although medical recommendations discourage prescriptions for long-term opioid use, some doctors continue to write repeat prescriptions. Furthermore, although opioids are for moderate to severe pain, many physicians prescribe it for mild pain.
Do You Know Which Drugs Are Opioids?
Did you suffer an on-the-job injury that left you with aches and pains? You might have been thrilled with the pain medication that allowed you to return to work within a short time, but it might have dire consequences. Some opioids are up to 12 times as potent as morphine, and they could be 100 times more powerful than heroin.
Be careful if your prescription is for hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, codeine, methadone, hydromorphone, oxycodone or meperidine. Brand names to be wary of include Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet, OxyContin, Dilaudid and Demerol.
Conditions For Which Doctors Prescribe Opioids
According to workers’ compensation data, the following are the conditions for which doctors generally prescribe opioids:
- Pain control after surgical treatment of workplace injuries
- Chronic pain after catastrophic injuries
- General pain control
Note that any use exceeding a fortnight of opioid use might improve your pain but threaten your life.
Red Flags To Warn You Of Possible Addiction
Opioids might be the only way to control your pain after a workplace injury, but keep in mind that they are habit forming, and the only way to avoid its destructiveness is to act on any of the following signs of addiction:
- Exceeding the prescribed dosage or frequency
- Cravings for the pills even when pain is absent
- Asking for prescription refills after recovery
- Seeing different doctors after your physician refuses to repeat opioid prescription
- Considering replacing pain medication with heroin or other illegal drugs
Early detection is crucial because it will more difficult it will be to resist the power of addiction the longer you wait.
How Can You Avoid Addiction?
The following points might seem harmless, but they may play a significant role in avoiding addiction:
- Never exceed the prescribed dosages
- Never share your pain pills with friends or family
- Never save excess opioids for possible future needs
- Always use appropriate methods to dispose of unused opioids
- Never exceed the recommended four- to six-week treatment period
You should also remember that continued use if pain persists after that time exacerbates potential addiction. It is essential to only use opioids for moderate to severe pain and think twice before every pill you take. In other words, do you really need it?
Where Can You Get Help?
If you have already become addicted to opioids, you can discuss your problem with an experienced attorney who works with the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance providers every day. A lawyer can provide support and guidance throughout discussions with your employer and the insurers to facilitate a suitable outcome that might include rehabilitation.