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The overuse of opioid therapy in the U.S. to treat chronic pain is reaching an “epidemic” level, according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

When dealing with workplace injuries, reliance on narcotics to deal with pain is a road riddled with rising Workers’ Compensation costs for employers and insurers. And for employees, the use of narcotics poses the potential for addiction and long delays in a productive return to work.

For example, a 2008 report by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, based on a study that tracked 166,000 Workers’ Comp claims over the course of three years, linked the use of opioid painkillers to long disability periods and high treatment costs.

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