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Adults with a mental illness account for 51.4% of the estimated 115 million opioid prescriptions distributed in the United States annually, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine on Monday.
The study also found that 18.7% of Americans with a mental health illness use prescription opioids, while only 5% of those without a mental health condition take prescription opioids.
Researchers combed through Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data collected by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. The study was a collaboration between medical and addiction researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Dartmouth College in Hannover, New Hampshire.
Researchers concluded that “improving pain management among (the population of those with mental disorders) is critical to reduce national dependency on opioids.”
The steady march away from opioid prescribing in workers compensation will continue into 2017, according to industry experts who call this ongoing shift in treating pain for injured workers a necessary, but complicated journey for all parties involved.