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Despite Reforms, Long-Term Opioid Use Still Prevalent – Study
Looking into 264,000 workers’ compensation claims and 1.5 million prescriptions from the claims in 25 states, the study showed that over time, there was minimal reduction in the prevalence of long-term opioid use, according to Human Resource Executive Online (HREOnline).
While there was a substantial increase in drug testing of long-term opioid users, the percentage of claims involving prescription drugs changed little, within two percentage points only. The team also discovered that in some states ,drug testing and psychological evaluations of long-term users was quite low.
Of the 25 states surveyed, Louisiana topped the list where longer-term opioid use was most prevalent. Statistics show that one out of six injured workers were using prescription drugs for the long-term. Other states that ranked high were New York and Pennsylvania.
Based on the claims, states with the lowest number of long-term prescription drug users, or those with fewer than one in 20, were Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin.
WCRI executive director Richard Victor said in a statement, “The issue this study addresses is very serious, which is how often doctors followed recommended treatment guidelines for monitoring injured workers who are longer-term users of opioids.”
HREOnline pointed out that painkillers have become a major cause for concern in the workers’ compensation industry, especially when employees become addicted to the drugs, causing additional problems in health care.
“There’s a growing concern that doctors may be over-prescribing opioids while failing to properly address the root causes of the pain and discomfort WC patients are suffering from,” the article said.
With opioid addiction still a serious problem for the US, stakeholders are banking on newer and more effective treatments and programs.
Companies like BioCorRx Inc. (BICX, http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=BICX) are offering effective medication in even more effective forms such as implants.
Under BioCorRx’s Start Fresh Program, the opioid antagonist naltrexone is introduced to the patient’s body in pellet form, which is inserted in the lower abdomen.
Naltrexone has long been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. Because it blocks the part of the brain that feels euphoria or pleasure in the intake of such addictive substances, naltrexone is able to curb the cravings of patients.
Because of the effectiveness of such drugs, there are now a number of similar programs offering alcohol and drug rehabilitation through medication.
BioCorRx, on the other hand, offers a dual approach of medication and counseling. While the naltrexone, in implant form, is able to stop alcohol and drug cravings for several months, patients can concentrate on addressing the psycho-social aspect of their addiction.
After undergoing estimated 20-minute outpatient procedure to place the implant under the skin, the patient then undergoes a 15-session life coaching program within a span of six months.
Such programs are expected to help curb opioid abuse for the long-term and bring down medical expenses of both governments and insurance companies.