By | 2018-08-29
Study Finds Decline in Opioid Use By Injured California Workers

Opioids remain the most frequently prescribed drugs for treating California injured workers who have either become permanently disabled or encountered a near fatal incident that resulted in loss of time from work, a recent study has found. However, with sustained efforts, opioid use over years fell by almost one third of the indemnity claim prescriptions. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in the usage of anticonvulsants and anti-inflammatory drugs as alternatives to addiction-forming opioids. The study by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) analyzed 12.5 million prescriptions dispensed to the workers between 2007 and June 2017 in terms of prescription and payment distributions. They further analyzed trends in cost, potency, volume and types of opioids used. Decline in indemnity claim prescriptions The authors identified that despite opioids being extensively prescribed for the workers with lost-time injuries, there was a decline in the indemnity claim prescriptions from nearly 32 percent in 2008 and 2009 to 23 percent in 2017. In addition, the share of prescription payments fell from 30.5 percent to 18.6 percent. The decline of opioid use fast-tracked in 2012 due to rigid scrutiny by utilization review, restrictions by payers, medical provider networks and pharmacy benefit managers, scrutiny by independent medical review programs, and increased public and physician awareness of risks associated with opioids. The data from 2017 showed that the prescriptions for opioids decreased and there has been a considerable rise in indemnity claim prescriptions for anticonvulsants and anti-inflammatory drugs. The dermatological drugs had the highest share in the claim prescriptions – 16.1 percent in 2017 compared to 6.9 percent in 2008. The study also showed that the prevalence of opioids decreased in the early stages of lost-time claims, which looks promising for future. There has been marginal changes in one-year post-injury analysis. The study also established that the total number of morphine equivalents (MMEs) dispensed per opioid user had a steep decline since 2012. Recovery from opioid abuse Addiction to any opioid is bound to create adverse effects. Opioids are meant to alleviate pain only till the time they are needed, but the relieving effect can make one prone to continue abusing the drugs for a longer period, which might result in tolerance and then dependence. Doctors and pharmacies should be alert and report any suspecting behavior among users to the concerned authorities. In addition, it is equally important for patients to follow their doctors’ advice and avoid self-medication. Addiction to opioids can cause shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and suppression of the respiratory system. Treatment to opioid addiction differs from person to person, based on the type of drug abused and the duration of use. The treatment could be availed from an inpatient facility where the patients are monitored round-the-clock or through an outpatient facility if the patients do not have enough time and resources. The treatment may comprise a mix of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), individual therapy, group therapy or family therapy. The preliminary step of any addiction treatment is detoxification, through which the body is cleansed of toxins and fortified with minerals and vitamins to get prepared for the next steps.