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PMSI’s Opioid Summit -Part Two, addiction

The first part of the report was supposed to be followed quickly by this, the second – however events overtook me, and I’ve just now come back to report on the Opioid Summit put on by PMSI last month in Sarasota.
We now turn to Dr Len Kamen’s talk on addiction – Dr Kamen is an addiction specialist practicing in Philadelphia, with extensive experience in workers comp.
Dr Kamen provided this definition of addiction: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry”, that has these characteristics:
A. Inability to consistently Abstain
B. Impairment in Behavioral control
C. Craving; or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences
D. Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors
and interpersonal relationships
E. A dysfunctional Emotional response
Addiction refers to the loss of control over the intense urges to take the drug/substance even at the expense of adverse consequences – jail, divorce, losing custody of children, homelessness…
(The clarity brought by Dr Kamen speaks to an ongoing conversation at Mark Wall’s LinkedIn Group on this issue)
The discussion addressed the “chronic pain dilemma”, attempting to determine if the claimant is addicted to or dependent on opioids. There are three ways to think of chronic pain patients;
– Managed chronic pain patients – an opioid user on low, stable dose with return to function
– Dependent chronic pain patient – opioid user on escalating doses of long/short acting opioids, with high pain levels and low functionality
– Addicted patients – exhibits abusive and aberrant behavior, unstable with no identifiable pathology.
A session at the upcoming NWCI Conference focuses on chronic pain; moderated by Liberty Mutual National Medical Director David Deitz Md PhD, two experts on the subject will provide insights on: creating an effective pain management protocol; at what point in a treatment plan should pain management be utilized; are there effective practice parameters that have been developed to determine if a formal program of pain management is called for and if so, what types of treatments should be a part of such program.
There was a lot more to this, and I’ll be providing additional resources in the next post.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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