May 3, 2022
Opioids Make it Harder, Not Easier to Work
The twin goals of prescribing opioids to workers with a bad back or arthritis are to alleviate their pain and keep them employed.
But the use and abuse of opioids can cause poor memory, extreme drowsiness, and an inability to engage in normal social interactions – all of which limit workers’ ability to function. Opioids also have serious physical effects outside of the dependence itself.
The resulting detachment from the labor market, revealed in a new research study, calls into question any benefits the medications have.
Between 2012 and 2018, average employment declined by nearly 2 percent for every 10 additional opioid prescriptions per 100 adults in a county-sized area, the researchers found. Wages also dropped by 6 percent, indicating that the opioid users who do remain employed are less productive.
The painkillers had more permanent consequences, too, when workers, unable to cope, left the labor market for good. The rate of applications for federal disability benefits increased sharply in the areas with higher prescribing rates, according to the study funded by the U. S. Social Security Administration, which runs the disability program. …Learn More