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Battling the Opioid Epidemic in Wisconsin

Anyone involved in the WC industry knows that the opioid epidemic is especially problematic in handling claims. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is tackling the opioid issue in his state head on with his Dose of Reality Campaign.  According to an article from Mr. Schimel posted on dailyreporter.com on August 17, 2018,  there are more than 163,000 Wisconsinites addicted to prescription opioids, and 80% of Wisconsin workers compensation claims involve narcotic pain medications like Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin and Hydrocodone. Attorney General Schimel notes that prescription opioid abuse costs U.S. employers $26 billion a year, and that workplace insurers spend $1.4 billion a year on narcotic painkillers.

Attorney General Schimel recommends the following to Wisconsin Employers:

  • Inform your employees about the dangers of prescription-painkiller use by distributing materials like the posters, flyers and brochures found at www.DoseOfRealityWI.gov, which are provided at no cost to employers.
  • Train supervisors to recognize the possible signs of drug impairment and know how to help.
  • Consider adopting an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if you don’t have one already, that can offer employees up to three confidential counseling sessions at no cost on a wide range of subjects related to mental health.
  • After first consulting your human-resources professionals or legal counsel, try to take stock of your company’s drug policies and consider including prescription medications in those policies and in your drug-testing procedures. People who recover from drug abuse can and will be successful employees, but they need early intervention and the support of their employers and fellow workers.
  • Also, consider encouraging your employees to take part in the safe and convenient drug-disposal program run by the DOJ. They can do this either by taking advantage of Drug Take Back Day, which will be held on October 27 this year, or by going to one of the nearly 400 permanent drug-disposal boxes that can be found throughout the state. At every Drug Take Back site, you can safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications. To learn more or to find a Drug Take Back site near you, go to www.DoseOfRealityWI.gov/Find-A-Take-Back-Location/.

Thanks to Partner Scott McCain for this update.  Scott handles Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin claim on behalf of the firm and works from the firm’s offices in those states.

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