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A NIOSH Role in Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

Categories: Drugs, Workers' Compensation

Prescription drug abuse and overdoses are a major public health concern (Health, United States 2013).  The CDC reports that opioid overdose deaths in particular have quadrupled since 1999, with more than 16,600 deaths in 2010 alone. The CDC has been focused on boosting resources for State prevention efforts and the President’s FY 2015 budget request of $16 million seeks to help States expand and intensify their work to implement interventions.

Prescription drug abuse has a broad reach across all aspects of society. Workers may face unique risks as injuries sustained at work are increasingly treated with powerful prescription drugs including opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol. Recent workers’ compensation studies reveal that prescription costs are continuing to rise, with narcotics accounting for 25% of costs.

NIOSH’s new Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (CWCS) is focusing on working with partners to use workers’ compensation data to improve workplace safety and health.  The CWCS teams NIOSH researchers with colleagues in the public and private sectors to explore opportunities for leveraging workers’ compensation data to reduce the incidence of work-related injuries and illnesses.  In addition to efforts to prevent injuries and illesses, the CWCS also seeks to ensure that workers’ compensation medical care is provided in a way that minimizes the risk of opioid dependence. Many states have taken steps to control opioid use in their workers’ compensation systems by limiting opioid availability, educating health care providers on responsible opioid prescribing, and increasing awareness among injured workers.

The CWCS is encouraging state departments of health and workers’ compensation agencies to collaborate on workers’ compensation data trending and is planning future webinars to focus on recent partner opioid prevention activities. Information on grant opportunities related to the prevention of opioid abuse can be found at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=253411.

Workers can access a searchable database of substance abuse programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) website.  Individual employer assistance programs (EAPs) may also offer useful information.

We have included a listing of prescription drug prevention resources for health care providers as well as additional information on prescription drug abuse. If you know of additional resources, please respond with comments to this blog.

We welcome all feedback as NIOSH works with our partners to prevent the risk of opioid dependence among workers receiving workers’ compensation medical care. 

John Howard, MD and  Steve Wurzelbacher, PhD, CPE, ARM

Dr. Howard is the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 

 Dr. Wurzelbacher is the Director of the NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (CWCS).

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. May 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm ET  -   Rekaya Gibson

    Additional resources:

    SAMHSA Fact Sheets on Preventing Prescription Abuse in the Workplace
    http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/icrc/Pages/SAMHSA-Prevention-of-Prescription-Drug-Abuse-in-th/SAMHSA-Fact-Sheets

    SAMHSA Prescription Drug Abuse Weekly Update
    https://www.formstack.com/forms/paw_signup-constant_contact_signup_form

    SAMHSA Prescription Drug Abuse Weekly Update Archive
    http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/icrc/Pages/SAMHSA-Prevention-of-Prescription-Drug-Abuse-in-th

    Link to this comment

  2. May 20, 2014 at 8:40 am ET  -   ewangelia

    Simply wanna say that this is invaluable , Thanks for taking your time to write this.

    Link to this comment

  3. May 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm ET  -   Robert

    See the Federation of State Medical Boards website for:

    1) RESPONSIBLE OPIOID PRESCRIBING: A PHYSICIAN’S GUIDE(http://www.fsmb.org/book/index.html)

    and

    2) Resources for Pharmacovigilance and Pain Management
    (http://www.fsmb.org/pain-resources.html)

    Link to this comment

  4. May 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm ET  -   Salomon Skischoenen Dames

    It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Link to this comment

  5. July 9, 2014 at 6:04 am ET  -   Teleskyshopping

    Best & informative piece of writing. Its major public health issue, Thanks for including the targeted list of drugs.It would helpful for the public health.

    Link to this comment

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