Workers who are seriously injured on the job face a dual threat from both their injuries and the medications their physicians prescribe to treat them. In addition to the disabling conditions that can be suffered on the job, workers can acquire addictions to opioid medications that can further hinder their ability to work.

Injured Workers and Opioids

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 2.8 million workers in the private sector, and 752,000 public employees suffered nonfatal injuries in the workplace. Over half of these injuries were serious enough that they required time away from work. That same year, workers compensation insurers spent over $1.5 billion on opioid prescriptions. These accounted for more than 13% of all opioid spending in the country during the same period.

In Nevada, opioids including Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin were prescribed for roughly 30% of workers whose injuries required seven or more days away from work in 2015. These rates varied considerably from state to state with some states reaching as high as 85%. That same year, 465 Nevada residents died from opioid overdoses.

The Danger of Overprescription

Opioid use can create long-term addictions that can be difficult and costly to treat. These addictions can cost workers their jobs and further hinder their ability to earn a gainful income. Further complicating an individual’s recovery, treatment of opioid addiction can run between $7,000 and $15,000 per year. That figure does not include the additional costs and consequences that can result from criminal convictions, the exacerbation of existing injuries, or incurring of new injuries as a result of the addiction. In short, opioid addiction resulting from treatment provided through a workers’ compensation claim can permanently sideline a worker from the workforce.

Dealing With Addiction Before Addiction Settles in

Workers’ compensation attorneys in Nevada can assist clients with filing their workers’ compensation claims and seeking alternative therapies that don’t depend on opioid prescriptions. The sooner injured workers seek adjustments to their treatment regimen, the less likely they are to form a lasting addiction to opioid medication. While the process of breaking an addiction to opioid medications like Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin can be long and difficult, there are resources available throughout Nevada that can help workers overcome their habits and take the next step forward in the process towards recovery and reentering the workforce.