Serving Maryland and Washington D.C. 301.870.1200

Prescription Opioid Abuse Epidemic

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 medication.

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 $420 billion.

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.

Categories: