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Battling drug addiction of injured workers

There are many Ohio workers who have been injured on the job and who are battling addiction to drugs that have been prescribed for their pain. Workers' compensation programs are taking steps to provide the assistance they require to overcome their addictions and are working to stop the excessive prescription of painkillers. The injured workers are usually prescribed powerful opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin.

In 2015, approximately 2.8 million workers in private industry and more than 750,000 workers in the public sector sustained nonfatal workplace injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of the injuries resulted in the victims having to take time off from work.

The results of a survey that was conducted by the industry group CompPharma show that workers' compensation insurers spent over $1.5 billion on opioids in 2015. Also in that year, the opioid prescriptions for injured workers made up 13 percent of the opioid pharmacy expenses in the United States.

Researchers in another study, which was conducted by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute, examined 337,000 workers' compensation claims in 25 states and determined that up to 85 percent of injured workers who missed a week or more of work had received at least one prescription for opioids. The study also found that when examined state by state, there was a significant variation in the rates of longer-term opioid use. For injured workers in Louisiana, the rate was 1 in 6 workers. California had a 1 in 10 rate, while the rates were just 1 in 30 for Missouri and New Jersey.

Workers who are injured as a result of performing their job duties may be eligible to seek workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may assist clients with filing the claims and with appealing denials or awards of insufficient amounts.

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