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California's system of compensating workers for job-related illnesses and injuries has one of the nation's highest rates of prescribing powerful pain-reducing drugs called opiods, a massive study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute found.

The findings suggest that injured workers may be overprescribed with narcotics, leading to addiction and other problems.

"Opiod misuse resulting in overdose deaths, addiction and diversion constitutes a top priority public health problem in the United States," the report says, adding that "an increasing number of states" have adopted policies to reduce use of opiods such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The institute examined serious work-related injuries in 25 states, encompassing more than 70 percent of the workers compensation benefits in the nation, and 1.5 million pain prescriptions to develop its profiles of each state's opiod use.

Louisiana stood out as the state with the heaviest long-term use of opiods to treat pain, but California was clustered with several other states in the second tier. The report recommends that states with high levels of opiod use adopt policies to monitor prescriptions and reduce use where possible.

The full report can be obtained from the Massachusetts-based organization here.

PHOTO: Amy Schutt deposits unwanted prescription drugs at a special receptacle at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on April 25, 2014. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a state program that collects unused medication to help fight prescription drug abuse has destroyed 3.3 tons of OxyContin and other drugs in the past five years. Associated Press Photo/James MacPherson


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