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Injured workers and the addiction to painkillers

October 11, 2012

A worker’s problems do not automatically end once the physical injuries heal. Workers often become addicted to the medication originally prescribed to them to treat their pain after injuries are suffered.

A study from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) in following up with workers (including workers from New Jersey) demonstrates that the injured worker will often be prescribed narcotics, and the long term use of these drugs may lead to further disability and inability to return to the workplace.

The conclusion of the study is about the needs of doctors to follow up with injured workers after painkillers have been prescribed, and it is also to place employers and other officials on notice as to what is going on in these injured workers’ lives.

It is estimated that 1 in 12 workers prescribed narcotics will still be using these substances some 3 to 6 months later. And few such workers ever received psychological evaluation or treatment for the consequences of their injuries.

What we can learn from such a study is that workplace injuries are seldom simple in nature, and the consequences of the injuries can affect every aspect of the worker’s life. We’ve long known the stress that workers are placed under in filing workers’ compensation claims to begin with.

Workers are often, understandably, reluctant to file these types of claims out of fear that they may then lose their jobs. Workers also have concerns about being out of a job for long periods of time, and having to pay medical expenses while at the same time attempting to support their family.

Attorneys that practice in the workers’ compensation area can help injured workers receive all of the compensation that they require. When making a claim, these attorneys can look at more than just immediate medical costs, and can look at the other needs of workers that need to be covered as well.

Source: EHS Today, “Injured Workers and the Risk of Narcotics Misuse,” by Laura Walter, Oct. 9, 2012

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