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Opioid Treatment and Addiction after a Work Injury

Doctors often prescribe opioids to treat pain after a workers’ compensation injury.  Doctors prescribe opioids because they can provide very good pain relief.

Many people are familiar with the names of different opioid medications. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Lorcet
  • Demerol
  • Norco
  • Vicodin

While these medications provide pain relief, it is important to be aware that there are risks with taking opioids.  This article will discuss some of those risks so that you can educate yourself and make good decisions about your medical treatment.

I am not a doctor.  I am a workers’ compensation attorney.  The information in this article is not intended as medical advice.  You should consult with your doctor and ask questions to make the best decisions about medical treatment.  This article just attempts to make you aware of some of the issues that arise.

Does workers’ compensation have to pay for opioid prescriptions?

Doctors often prescribe opioids after injuries at work. A doctor migh prescribe Lorcet if you fall and break your arm. The emergency room might prescribe you Percocet if you break your ankle.

Georgia workers’ compensation law requires your employer to pay for the medical treatment for your injury. This medical treatment includes prescriptions. You should not have a problem getting the insurance company to pay for opioids for the treatment of short term pain after an injury.

Doctors also often prescribe opioids after surgery. Invasive surgeries usually cause pain. You may need pain medication while recovering from surgery.

Some people have concerns about taking opioid medicationDoes workers’ compensation have to pay for long term pain management with opioids?

Workers’ compensation has to pay for the reasonable and necessary medical treatment you need for your injury.  That treatment includes treatment necessary to do the following:

  • Affect a cure,
  • Provide relief, or
  • To restore you to suitable employment

There is a debate now among physicians about the benefits of opioid treatment for long term pain.  Workers’ compensation could have to pay for pain management treatment with opioids if your doctor recommends them.

The insurance company may try to avoid paying for this treatment.  They might get an IME with a different doctor who will say that opioids do not benefit you.  You may have to take them to court to get treatment covered.

Will I become addicted to opioids?

Many of my workers’ compensation clients receive opioid treatment for their work injuries.  Many find that these medications allow them to function better as they recover from their injuries.

But, there are certainly risks.  Opioids can become addictive.  I have known people who suffer from opioid addiction.

The good thing about workers’ compensation medical treatment is that you only have to have the treatment you desire.  If you do not want to take opioid medication because of a concern about addiction, you can choose not to take it.

I would recommend talking to your doctor.  He or she should be able to give you good information about what risk of addiction there is.  It is certainly possible that the risk may vary as well depending on how long you need to take the medication.

Does workers’ compensation cover rehab treatment if I become addicted to opioids?

The insurance company can have to cover the costs of rehab treatment if you become addicted.  One of the questions will be what caused your addiction.

Heroin and fentanyl use became a big issue in 2016.  The CDC reported increases in heroin use.   An insurance company might contest paying for rehab treatment if you became addicted to illegal opioids.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families. To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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