The use and prescription of opioid medications has significantly increased in the United States.
By 2010, the United States, with about 5% of the world’s population, was consuming 99% of the world’s hydrocodone (the narcotic in Vicodin), along with 80% of the oxycodone (in Percocet and OxyContin), and 65% of the hydromorphone (in Dilaudid).
As narcotics prescriptions surged, so did deaths from opioid overdoses—from about 4,000 to almost 17,000. Studies have shown that patients who receive narcotics for chronic pain are less likely to recover function, and are less likely to return to work.
This increase has been noted by workers’ compensation insurance carriers and the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. A seminar was recently held in Maryland that involved input from Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commissioners.
A push has been in place for years now, particularly in the setting of workers’ compensation cases, to prescribe non-narcotic pain management and the research seems to support this as a viable option for individuals who need ongoing pain management.