When you or a loved one has a sprain or a strain, a physician will prescribe a narcotic pain reliever. But did you know that of the 2 million Americans who are currently abusing narcotics, there were 43,982 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2013? Of these, 22,767 (51.8%) were related to prescription drugs. This issue is so familiar that drug companies are now running Super Bowl ads to help with a common issue that comes with chronic opioid use – constipation.
Sadly, from a physiological perspective, prescribing narcotics just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Over time the pain will actually get worse. Narcotics bind with pain receptors, causing a reduction in the number of available pain transmitters. The nervous system is very adaptable and will quickly grow new receptors, thus requiring more narcotics to block pain. And so it goes.
A recent review of the OHIO WC system showed that 60 people were taking doses equivalent to that of 200 Vicodin pills per day. As prescribed. By Physicians. No wonder so many die and countless others struggle with the horrors of addiction.
This should be enough to trigger a shift in the way we think. Sprains and strains are often the number one cost for physical and repetitive industries. This puts employees at significant risk of opioid abuse. In fact, a quarter of your injured workers who have been prescribed narcotics will become addicted. Simply stated, preventing injuries can help prevent opioid abuse from ever becoming an issue in the first place.
Learn more about opioid abuse in our report: The Opioid Epidemic: Will It Hit Your Workplace?