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Employees Who Suffer Painkiller Addictions Less Likely to Return to Work After Injury


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9/16/2014
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If anyone ever told you that you would missing loading lumber at the Home Depot, you’d have said they were crazy. But after six weeks in a cast, you’d give anything to be back at work. It wasn’t a great job, but it allowed you to provide for your family—and with so little offers in the Parsippany classifieds, you’re beginning to feel like a failure. You don’t even bother looking for stay-at-home jobs anymore, you just refill your meds and stay in bed, hoping that the creditors lose the heart to call on you.

Help for Workers Suffering From Medication Addiction After an Injury

After a debilitating injury turns your life upside-down, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Unfortunately, many injured workers feel the same way you do—and turn to prescription medications to fight more than just pain. But there are a few ways prolonged use will actually work against you in the long run, including:

  • Increased expense. Patients who suffer from psychological conditions after a work injury will often have higher costs of medical care, as well as longer recovery times since they will need to undergo treatment for both the injury and the mental condition.
  • Less relief. In many cases, patients who are suffering from medication addictions may not respond as well to treatment for their physical injury. A Harvard Medical School study found that when patients were treated for low back pain with nerve blocks, patients with depression and substance addiction experienced more pain than other patients who received the injections—and in some cases, the addicted group’s pain actually got worse.
  • Future problems working. In past studies, doctors have identified patients with substance abuse problems with being less likely to have a successful return to regular work. While disabling symptoms varied from patient to patient, depression, anxiety problems, and even an increased perception of one’s disability level were the most common predictors of future employment issues.

These findings show why workers who develop psychological problems after an injury should be treated as carefully and compassionately as possible. Opioid dependence is often a symptom of a worse condition—depression—rather than a condition itself. A patient’s beliefs and outlook on his own injury can be just as important during recovery as the physical treatment he receives, and both are necessary for full, long-lasting healing.

If you are suffering from depression or substance abuse after a work injury, you can get the payments you need to get back on your feet. Download our FREE book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know: Your Workers' Comp Guide, or leave a comment below to tell us about your case.



Category: Workers' Comp

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