A Healthesystems publication

Fall 2014

Getting Unhooked: Opioid Detoxification Is a Necessary Evil in Workers’ Compensation

The prevalence of opioid prescribing among injured workers opens the door for misuse and abuse of these narcotic analgesics. While prevention is the foremost goal, successful detoxification employing both pharmacologic and psychosocial strategies offers hope to dependent or addicted patients.

Opioids are a dual-edged sword. While they can be used to manage acute pain associated with surgical procedures, medical conditions or severe injury, medical evidence does not support long-term use.1 Chronic use of opioids is often associated with extended disability, poor outcomes, and higher medical costs2,3,4,5 — and yet these powerful pain killers continue to be prescribed. Opioids also offer a significant chance — as high as 30 percent according to some studies — that patients will misuse them.6

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