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Injured workers tell of struggles with addiction

In some states across the country, workers' comp programs are changing. They are attempting to keep workers who get injured on the job from subsequently getting addicted to painkillers. It's a significant issue that impacts many who are over-prescribed opioids after an injury.

One Boston man, who has now turned his life around and become an addiction therapist, talked about his struggles. He was working as a mover when he was hit by a truck hard enough to throw him for 10 yards.

The accident left him with neck pain and fractured vertebrae. He couldn't work any longer, thanks to the constant pain and the physical demands of his job. He said he started taking so main painkillers that he was treating them like candy. Specifically, he mentioned morphine, Percocet and OxyContin. He said that those drugs, not the initial accident, ruined his life.

After getting hooked on the drugs, he needed a way to fund his lifestyle since he was out of work. He started selling cocaine. Eventually, he wound up behind bars before finally getting things turned around.

Though his story has a positive ending, it still shows the risk. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2015, around 2.8 million workers in private industries were injured and survived. Over 50 percent of them had to miss work for at least a short time. The changes to workers comp programs hope to reduce these risks going forward.

Have you been hurt on the job? If you're missing time and suffering from lasting pain, it's important to know exactly what rights you have.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Workers Comp Programs Fight Addiction Among Injured Workers," Bob Salsberg, Associated Press, April 10, 2017

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