In the United States, prescription opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled
since 1999. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that roughly 183,000 people have died from a prescription
opioid overdose between 1999 to 2015. In 2015 alone, there were more than
15,000 deaths. The most
common prescription opioids that people overdose from are methadone, oxycodone (such as Oxycontin),
and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin).
The Demographics of Opioid Addicts
Though men are more likely than women to suffer from prescription opioid
addictions, women are closing the gap, as they are more likely to have
chronic pain and be prescribed these pain relievers by physicians. Additionally,
women are more likely to become addicted to opioids moer quickly than men. Also,
demographically, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks are more
likely to suffer from prescription opioid addiction and abuse opioids
at greater rates than Hispanics. Maryland is one of several states where
between 2014 and 2015 there have been statistically significant surges
in drug overdose deaths, with a 20% increase between 2014 and 2015.
Opioid Abuse Stemming from Workers Injured at the Workplace
The opioid addiction has become epidemic in the workplace, and more and
more employers are paying the cost of prescription opioid addiction. It
is estimated that
three-fourths of all injured workers in Maryland are prescribed opioids to alleviate the pain caused by the workplace accident.
It was estimated by the Journal of Addictive Diseases that of these injured
workers prescribed opioid pain medications, 35% become addicted to the
It is further worrisome that these injured workers, though prescribed opioids
for pain management by medical professionals, have a harder time returning
to work because their opioid addictions can lead to extensive disability
and future medical costs. In 2007, one study estimated that prescription
opioid abuse cost employers more than
$25 billion. For substance abuse addiction that expands beyond prescription opioid
abuse, it has been estimated that annually it costs the United States roughly
The Role of Employers to Investigate Opioid Addiction
Opioid abuse is becoming more and more prevalent and
employers should have a larger role in investigating the extent to which their office employees are addicted
to prescription medications. This is particularly important when the office
and employees are responsible for public safety and health work. Opioid
abuse can rewire an addict’s brain and can affect an addict’s
productivity. This could be harmful in situation where an addict is operating
heavy machinery or responsible for the health and welfare of vulnerable
members of the population. One of the major problems of employers when
dealing with substance abuse issues is that their human resources policies
are rather lackadaisical and where they may have a policy for workplace
drug testing, they either are not following through or are not testing
for prescription opioids. According to a prominent drug testing firm,
only about 13% of workplaces, approximately 6.5 million offices, are actually
screening for addictive pain medications.
The Role of Doctors and Medical Professionals in the Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Doctors and other medical professionals also have a responsibility to identify and help patients kick opioid addictions
because these medical professionals tend to be the source of the pharmaceuticals.
One suggestion has been that doctors learn more about pain management
and teach patients about how to deal with pain that may not be adequately
dealt with by pain medications.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
If you or a loved one have been injured or harmed as result of negligent
care by a medical professional, it is important to consult with an experienced
personal injury attorney. Please call the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.