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Did you develop a problem with opioids after a work injury?

Opioid addiction has been a hot topic for some time now. The over-prescribing of these powerfully addictive medications has come under fire from a variety of sources.

One area where you may personally have experienced issues with these drugs is through a work-related injury. Evidence suggests that the prescribing of pain relief medications in the workers' compensation arena has contributed to the opioid crisis.

Common workplace injuries and pain management

The most common workplace injuries involve fractures, sprains and strains. These injuries can take some time to heal and often come with a significant amount of pain. If your doctor prescribed you an opioid pain medication, you could end up addicted. Even if you were only to take them temporarily due to an acute injury instead of a chronic one, the danger remains. 

The goal of workers' compensation is to get you back to work as soon as possible. Pain medications can help you do that, but they tend to only mask the pain and could actually end up prolonging their use for a pain that lasts longer than it should. 

What happens if you become addicted to them? 

In recent years, this source of opioid addiction began receiving the attention it deserves. Data from 2016 indicates that there was at least one opioid prescription in approximately 44% of workers' compensation claims. Around 15% of people with these prescriptions had suffered the injury that led to their opioid prescription around six years prior. Your risk of disability one year after the initial injury doubles if you take these drugs for more than just a few days. It's easy to see why so many people become addicted to these drugs.

Obviously, taking these medications while driving or at work increases the danger to you and others. Your productivity will probably suffer, and you may take more days off work. A link between opioid use and workplace violence also exists.

What can you do?

As they say, recognizing you have a problem is the first step. If you realize you rely too heavily on your pain medication to make it through the day, you may begin looking for a solution and a way to get your life back on track. Here in California, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits to help you fight such an addiction, especially if it arose due to a work-related injury.

Fighting for your rights is not always an easy task. Just as you may need help treating your addiction, you may also need help receiving workers' compensation benefits needed to do so. Making use of the legal resources in your area is a good place to start.

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