Update on the opioid crisis in Michigan and why addiction treatment is critical to solving this big problem.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that opioid prescriptions in Michigan have dropped again last year. Prescriptions declined 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. This follows a previous drop of 10.7 percent. Despite this progress – the crisis is not over – and people keep dying.
According to the Detroit Free Press, prescription medication is not the cause of most opioid-related deaths. Individuals turn to heroin when pills become unavailable. The number of heroin deaths have now skyrocketed. These illicit drugs are often tainted with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Experts understand that reducing prescriptions alone will not solve the opioid crisis. Treatment is needed for people suffering with addiction. Increased access to Narcan (naloxone), the opioid overdose-reversing agent, is also critical to preventing death.
NPR is also reporting that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced grant funding to treat opioid addiction. Michigan hospitals will receive 1.3 million to create better systems for people dealing with opioid addiction. Whitmer acknowledges that most people who end up in the emergency room following an overdose are sent home without a follow-up plan.
Our two cents on opioid addiction
We have blogged the opioid crisis on several different occasions. It is close to our hearts because of the many clients who are prescribed these powerful drugs. Unfortunately, we have seen addiction first-hand and it can be devastating. One of our clients died from an overdose despite making a good recovery and getting back to work.
It is also a topic that many people are concerned about. Our blog post from last month regarding criminal charges filed against opioid distributors generated 346 likes, 103 comments, and 175 shares on Facebook. Not many people are normally that interested in workers’ compensation issues.
Opioids have been a hot topic in the field of workers’ compensation for years. Administrative rules were adopted by the Agency in 2014 to combat this crisis. They prohibit reimbursement beyond 90 days unless specific criteria are met. This includes detailed physician reporting including analysis of medical history and previous narcotic use, a written treatment plan including periodic urine drug screens and conscientious efforts to reduce pain through alternative means, and a signed opioid treatment agreement.
An important takeaway from the opioid crisis is that treatment is critical to solving this problem. Workers’ compensation is available to help those individuals who become addicted to opioids because of a workplace accident. It pays for addiction treatment as well as alternative pain therapies. Wage loss benefits should continue while a person is unable to work.
Our experience is that many people fail to use workers’ compensation insurance as a resource to pay for addiction treatment. We must do more to erase the stigma that comes with addiction so that people do not suffer in silence.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.