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Injured workers are using less opioids, study finds

Opioid-derived medications have long been used to treat workers suffering from chronic pain conditions as a result of their injuries. The story might go something like this:

A construction worker falls off a scaffold at work and suffers a severe back injury. The back injury leads to a chronic pain condition, so a doctor describes a strong pain medication like Oxycontin to help the injured worker cop with the pain. Due to the highly addictive nature of Oxycontin, as an opioid drug, the worker develops an addiction to the medicine and the addiction literally destroys his life, his ability to work and he is ruined because of it.

It's because of stories like this that doctors have been trying to reduce the prescription of opioids as treatments for chronic pain conditions. A recently published study shows that the effort to reduce opioid prescriptions is working.

Connecticut shows a 20 to 30 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions

The state of Connecticut in particular has shown a dramatic decline in opioid prescriptions for injured workers from two study time frames, 2010-2012 and 2013-2015. During these time frames opioid prescriptions decreased by 20 to 30 percent. The study looked at over 430,000 workers' compensation claims and almost 2.3 million prescriptions from 26 states.

According to the study, Connecticut's decline in opioid prescriptions coincided programs in the state, in addition to legislative action intended to control the rampant problem of opioid prescriptions.

As a part of these programs, all professionals prescribing opioids needed to register their prescriptions with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). When physicians made a prescription for an opioid, they needed to check the PDMP to ensure that no one else had previously given a simultaneous prescription to the patient. This seems to have helped prevent addicted patients from going to multiple doctors in order to get more than safe levels of opioid drugs. Also, in Connecticut, doctors can only give their patients a maximum of a seven-day supply of opioid prescriptions.

When you're hurt, seek the benefits you have a right to receive

Injured workers in Connecticut have the right to receive financial benefits to help them pay for their medical care by filing a workers' compensation claim. They can also seek money to pay for time spent unable to work. However, just like any time an injured person deals with a medical practitioner, if a doctor prescribes you an opioid drug, you might want to question whether it is absolutely necessary. Opioid-derived medication addiction has destroyed many lives.

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