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Narcotics — also referenced as opiods or opiates — have long been used to therapeutically treat pain resulting from on-the-job injuries. They are often prescribed to alleviate pain after an injury first occurs, when other drugs are ineffective for acute pain, and in chronic pain cases.

The use of narcotics was evidenced in a recent article in the Journal of Workers Compensation, which estimated that narcotics account for an almost 40 percent of workers’ compensation medication costs. And while narcotics can be beneficial in the treatment plan of an injured worker, there are serious risks involved when they are not used properly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), both indicate increasing misuse and abuse of narcotics over the past decade. SAMHSA data shows that there was a significant increase from 2000 to 2006 in the treatment of substance abuse cases related to abuse of opiod analgesics.

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