When used for pain management in longstanding cases, the development of drug tolerance with opioid use is fairly common. How can you work with your workers comp insurance consultant to protect workers against tolerance dangers?
Know the Signs
Tolerance is a normal physiological response: The body becoming accustomed to a drug dose over time. If opioids are increased and symptoms stabilize – that's a prime indicator of drug tolerance.
Dangers of Tolerance
Dependence occurs when the body gets sick without opioids for 12 hours or more. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia, sweating, irritability, and runny nose.
Once opiate tolerance develops, the likelihood of physical dependence (addiction) rises. The increased perception of pain often leads to abuse, as sufferers seek to use the drug on their own terms: (1) higher than prescribed doses, (2) dependence on its mood-altering effects, and (3) doctor shopping or gaining scripts from multiple prescribers.
The second leading cause of death in the U.S., opiate overdose is increasingly common with those who’ve developed a tolerance, particularly following periods of abstinence (such as incarceration), after which they return to their previous (but now overly high) dose. This often leads to a fatal overdose, particularly alongside alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and antidepressants. Signs include an inebriated look, mood swings, excessive sleepiness, slow breathing, and confusion.
Tolerance is NOT a Permanent Condition
Physical tolerance only remains with continued intake of opiates. Psychological tolerance, however, is another matter, lasting many years post-addiction.
Prevent addiction and protect injured workers with the help of a workers comp insurance consultant who’s on your side. Join the team at Minnesota Comp Advisor today.
In today’s addiction-riddled, drug obsessed world, employee health management regimes continue to place opioid use for chronic, non-cancer pain (CNCP) under the microscope for efficacy. Does it really work? And if so, do benefits outweigh risks? Or are the use of these drugs merely a shot in the dark, prescribed by physicians with a lack of evidence-based alternatives?
Opioid misuse on the one hand, undertreated pain on the other
CNCP is common, affecting 10-20% of adults, particularly the elderly. There exists to-date no singly effective drug or drug group that works well for its alleviation. NSAIDs are viewed as dangerous and often avoided, other licensed medicines are prohibitively expensive, and non-drug protocols are few, with scant evidence of efficacy, leaving opioid use to soar.
Does that mean they work?
While there will be some who get demonstrable pain relief with opioids without experiencing long-term harm or side effects, evidence is weak - opioids should not be the drug of choice for chronic pain. Consideration must be given to treating pain while avoiding risks - without taking sides in the national debate. A decision to exclude them a priori would appear based on ignorance/fear - not science.
A sensible approach
The situation here is no different than in others where a small number of individuals benefit immensely but most do not – a chance for pain relief should be given - albeit at sensible dosages, and alongside non-drug options, until efficacy is verified. High-doses and long-term use must be avoided to circumvent adverse risks, allowing those who can benefit to do so.
Current employee health management tactics seem risky? Minnesota Comp Advisor can help. Contact us today.
Are you overlooking the needs of workcomp insurance pain patients? A common occurrence with chronic pain sufferers, whose pain and symptoms are mostly invisible, these individuals often feel alone and disconnected from a world in which they are constantly on the outside looking in. Coping – simply trying to get by moment-to-moment – further results in an introverted response that cuts off such sufferers from friends and loved ones even more, invoking their self-protective nature. How can you help such individuals reach out?
Five Olive Branches for Chronic Pain Sufferers:
1. Help pain sufferers feel connected by reaching out any way possible, from a quick text or social media message to more in-depth (and crucial) in-person, phone, or video-messaging conversations. Simply listening shows suffers they are not alone.
2. Be flexible, arranging both work and home-life activities around “good” and “bad” times of the day or days of the week. You’ll gain the advantages of those truly “good” moments, far lessening the stress, grief, and pressures of “forcing it” through the bad ones.
3. Help them amass a “travel triage” including heat pads, ice packs, cushions, support, or other essentials to make work and leisure activities outside the home more comfortable. (You may need to plan ahead and get creative, depending on the event.)
4. Add music to your arsenal. Though not a direct connection, music keeps spirits lifted, aids in coping, and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.
5. Let them play the “me” card, shutting out the world as necessary to manage pain needs.
Unite your workforce and bring peace and courage to workcomp insurance pain patients with these and other tips from Minnesota Comp Advisor today.