According to the Brookings papers on economic activity the increase in opioid prescriptions from 1999 to 2015 could account for approximately 20% of the decline in men’s workforce participation over that period of time.
This was a small news brief in the weekly edition of Investors business daily (10/9/17) titled “where did all the workers go?”  Among other findings:
– almost half of working age men who were not working took pain medications on a daily basis.
– 40% said pain prevented them from accepting a job.
– They also had low levels of emotional wellbeing.
– The authors noted that participation in the labor force fell more in counties where more opioids were prescribed.In the same publication weeks or months before, I read about the technological changes big-pharma is testing, searching & instituting to address the addictive nature of these medications.  The solution from a cost standpoint, societal impact, side effects, drug rehab programs, etc is much easier and already in place.  Utilization of safe alternatives like chiropractic care are available & the likely answer.   What if that was the first alternative?  How much would we save (as tax payers or on health insurance premiums)?  What are the possibilities for improved efficiency & worker productivity/output?
As a finance major I can imagine the potential disruptions to medical/health care norms.  I can also, anticipate improved patient outcomes.  In my professional opinion, it is in our best interest (nationally) as an aging population to find structural & fundamental improvements for our clinical management of pain.  According to the study, 40% of the users had pain that prevented them from working.  If they can’t work and still have pain, it’s insanity to continue treating pain in this manner.    ​