A serious work injury can absolutely put you at risk for both an overdose and suicide.

The impact of work injuries on a person’s mental health are too often ignored. A serious work injury can absolutely put you at risk for both overdose and suicide. The majority of people who get addicted to prescription painkillers start with a legitimate prescription. The truth is, the mixture of addiction and job loss can be a volatile one.

The Prescription Epidemic

The misuse of prescription drugs in the United States is among the nation’s leading public health concerns. The number of overdose deaths in the United States was four times higher in 2018 than it was in 1999, and 70% of them involved opioids.

It’s also worth pointing out that your risk of suicide due to overdose is much higher if you have ever overdosed in the past. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that people who go to the emergency room for an opioid overdose “are 100 times more likely to die by drug overdose in the year following discharge and 18 times more likely to die by suicide relative to the general population.”

If this describes you, then you may want to consider alternatives to opioids during your recovery.

The Relationship Between Unemployment and Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a strong causal relationship between unemployment and depression. The CDC found that 12% of emerging adults are struggling with depression, and nearly 25% of them are unemployed.

This isn’t particularly hard to understand when you consider all the angles. When you suffer a serious work injury, it upends everything in your life. It isn’t just the pain, the job loss or the prescriptions you’re taking; it’s the isolation, the diminished sense of self worth that comes with joblessness.

It can be difficult to see the big picture when you’re recovering from a serious work injury. You should do your best to remind yourself that your injury (and the emotional distress that comes with it) is temporary; eventually, your injury will heal, you’ll go back to work and the entire ordeal will be behind you.

How to Maintain Your Mental Health Through the Healing Process

It’s important while healing from an injury to keep your mental health in mind. If you notice yourself starting to feel depressed or overwhelmed, you should get in front of it before it gets worse. It may seem daunting, but there are things you can do that will help you manage your stress level; helpful activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Walking or jogging
  • Any other physical activity you enjoy and your injury permits

Exercise is an integral part of maintaining a healthy mental state; it releases endorphins and calms the mind, which is extremely important when recovering from an injury.

Injuries and Addiction

Work injuries that require medical care or time away from work can lead to a lot of uncertainty in people’s lives; they affect people’s physical, emotional and often financial well being, and the last thing anyone needs piled on to this list is an addiction to prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, injuries (and the medications prescribed for them) can and do lead to addiction, which can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. If you or someone you love are dealing with addiction and depression, you should utilize every resource available to you.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for example, maintains a national crisis helpline that operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and you can use it to get the help you need and deserve. It could save your life or the life of someone you love.