Taking Opioids for Your North Carolina Workplace Injury? Follow the Guidelines!

November 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or someone in your family has been prescribed opioid medications to deal with the pain stemming from a Charlotte workplace injury, please be sure to follow your doctor and pharmacist’s guidelines. A worrying new report put out by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), entitled Longer-Term Use of Opioids, examined patient behavior in over 21 states (including North Carolina) and found a shocking degree of non-compliance among patients.

For instance, one out of every 12 workers who was prescribed opioids for a workplace injury remained on the drugs three to six months after they were supposed to stop taking them. Similarly worryingly: many patients failed to follow-up with the treatment and psychological evaluations.

The WCRI study looked at over 300,000 cases and over 1.1 million prescriptions – that’s a lot of data. The trend was pretty clear – and distributing.

This is a big deal. According to a National Council on Compensation Insurance study from 2009, one out of every four workers’ comp dollars goes to prescription costs.

When hurt workers fail to adhere rigorously to their rehabilitation plans and medical treatment, their recalcitrance stresses the entire system.

1.    First of all, workers on average may need to take more time off work.
2.    Secondly, patients may be spending more money on prescription medications than they “ought to” – this also creates waste in the system.
3.    Third, some people might be not getting the treatment that they really need.

According to new theories about addiction, we may engage in addictive, compulsive behaviors as a response to helplessness in our lives. Unless those fundamental feelings of helplessness are addressed, we may continue to take drugs – including physically addicting opioids. If we simply try to eliminate the physical addiction – break-off the opioid intake – we may not eliminate the root cause of the addiction (e.g. helplessness stemming from the fact that you can no longer support your family or enjoy the career that you once did). Compelling evidence for this alternative frame comes from studies on Vietnam vets, who got hooked on heroin during the Vietnam War but who easily and completely kicked their heroin habit upon return to the homeland. This evidence suggests that the psychological stresses of war in and of themselves provoked a compulsion to seek relief through opioids – i.e. the heroin was simply a substrate. Once the vets returned to a peaceful environment, many felt more in control — and thus less in need of meds.

In any event, the moral is that, if someone you love has been struggling with a workplace injury in North Carolina or elsewhere, good, strategic, continuous help can relieve the psychological stressors and also ensure that you get treated fairly by your employer and your insurance company. Connect with the DeMayo law team today to schedule your free consultation.

 
 

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