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Many U.S. Workers on Disability Use Narcotic Painkillers, Study Finds
Date:8/22/2014

By
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A growing number of Americans on work disability chronically use powerful prescription painkillers, according to a new study.

Researchers found that between 2007 and 2011, about 44 percent of people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits were prescribed narcotic painkillers each year. And the percentage using the drugs long-term rose from 21 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2011.

Experts said the trend is worrying because narcotic painkillers -- which include OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin -- can be addictive, or abused by people with existing drug problems.

What's more, when it comes to typical workplace injuries, narcotic painkillers are not a good long-term solution, the study authors noted.

"The effectiveness is at best uncertain, and the risks are very real," said researcher Ellen Meara, of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H.

The findings, reported in the September issue of the journal Medical Care, aren't surprising, Meara noted. Nationwide, prescriptions for narcotic painkillers -- also known as opioids -- surged 300 percent after 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Thursday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it was proceeding with tough new controls on painkillers containing hydrocodone, which has been tied to a surge in dangerous addictions across the United States.

The new restrictions would cover prescription narcotic drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab and their generic equivalents, putting them in the same regulatory class as painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and codeine. Patients will now only have access to a three-month supply of the drug and wi
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