Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP)

President Donald J. Trump has mobilized his entire Administration to address the opioid crisis. Central to the President's Opioid Initiative is reducing demand and preventing over-prescribing through education and awareness.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, in full support of the President's Initiative, wants every injured federal worker to know the facts about opioid abuse, prevention, and treatment.

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that more than 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid. See CDC – Preventing an Opioid Overdose for more information.
  • The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) data shows that injured workers who were prescribed at least one prescription in 2016 received three times as many opioid prescriptions as the U.S. opioid prescribing rate.
  • While long-term opioid use often begins with the treatment of pain (see CDC - Guidelines for Chronic Pain), a Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) study of workers with low-back injuries shows those who receive longer-term prescriptions for opioid painkillers take significantly longer to return to work than those who are not prescribed opioids.
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries found that receiving more than a one week supply of opioids or two or more opioid prescriptions soon after an injury doubles a worker's risk of disability at one-year post injury, compared with workers who do not receive opioids.
  • Very few studies have been conducted that provide evidence to support the long-term benefits of opioid use for chronic pain. See Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  • Opioid use presents serious risks, including overdose and opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorder is defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress. See CDC – Commonly Used Terms.
  • The point of greatest control is before you take the first opioid. Injured workers should be active participants in their care so they can make an informed decision regarding treatment. Know your options.
  • Alternative methods for controlling pain may include non-opioid medications, non-pharmacologic treatments, and pain treatment programs. These alternative treatments are more likely to help reduce disability, facilitate the return to work, and decrease instances of opioid misuse. OWCP's FECA policy on Alternative Pain Management and Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder provides greater detail on options available.

Need Help? If you or someone you know needs help dealing with opioid abuse please visit or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)