- In all states reviewed, "fewer injured workers received opioids recently as compared with previous years," according to a study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute. The research analyzed 575,000 nonsurgical claims in 27 states that resulted in more than seven days of lost time and at least one prescription paid under workers' comp. It examined data from October 2011 through March of last year.
- Even with a recent decline, "opioid prescribing continues to be prevalent among nonsurgical claims with more than seven days of lost time," the study said. The research also revealed that the increase in individuals who received non-opioid pain medications did not completely offset the reductions in opioid prescriptions. "At the end of the study period, fewer injured workers received pain medication prescriptions and prescriptions in general that were paid under workers' compensation," it concluded.
- The research also detected "a shift in treatment patterns from prescribing pain medications [...] to providing non-pharmacologic pain treatments," such as physical therapy.
Most employers are affected by opioid use — three-quarters of U.S. employers in a National Safety Council study said they have been directly affected by it, in fact. Only 17% of employers in the same study said they are "extremely well prepared" to confront opioid use, however. Another report revealed 42% of employers are unsure of the prevalence of substance abuse and prescription drug addiction within their organizations.
Last year, the National Business Group on Health urged employers to prepare for the possible effects the crisis may have on business. A 2019 working paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland estimated that 44% of the national decrease in men's labor force participation from 2001 to 2015 is due to opioids. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation reported that the crisis has cost the state $9.7 billion.
As employers identify the scope of the opioid crisis, many are pivoting to finding solutions. In Indiana, for example, one employer piloted a program that paid for job seekers' rehab if they meet the qualifications of open positions but fail the company's initial drug screen. Applicants who completed the program got the job.