Robert Goldberg, MD, FACOEM and Silvia Sacalis, BS, PharmD
Our country is being threatened. And in many ways, the enemy is us. The numbers paint a bleak picture for our priorities as a society as they relate to the opioid crisis. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report more than 42,000 people died from opioid-related drug overdose in 2016, and provisional data for 2017 currently put opioid overdose fatality rates just under 48,000.
As clinical leaders in the workers’ compensation space, we bring a unique point of view to this conversation. Managing the care of injured employee populations, where pain and its management are prevalent, we are positioned on the front line of preventive efforts against prescription opioid addiction.
We have seen firsthand the tremendous negative impact that opioids have on the recovery, health, and quality of life for the patient. We have critical insight into why this problem is not just about street drugs – that prescription opioids play a definitive role in the larger crisis. For every fatality counted, there are exponentially more people out there suffering from the impacts of opioids, at the individual, family, and community levels. For every one person who dies from opioid overdose, 50 more individuals have an opioid use disorder, and 272 misuse prescription opioids in some way.
Most importantly, we know that change is possible. But it doesn’t happen without a committed effort.