Prescription Pain Medication Addiction on the Rise in Women

Posted by Pharmacist on July 25, 2013

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that women’s death from prescription pain medication has quintupled since 1999. In fact, more women are dying from drug overdoses than homicide or cervical cancer. The study noted the increase is significant among white women and older women, frequently those living in rural areas.

According to the report in 2010 there were 6,631 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses among women, the highest rate highest among women aged 45 to 54. The death rate for blacks was less than half of that of whites and Asians and Hispanics had the lowest rate.

While the problem has been increasing over the past years C.D.C. director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden noted the problem was “virtually unrecognized.” There are several theories as to why the rates are on the rise. Women are more frequently prescribed pain medication and usually get prescriptions for higher doses. The study notes that women usually have a lower body mass than men, increasing the chances of overdose. Additionally women are more likely to take a combination of psychotherapeutic drugs and pain medication, increasing their odds of overdose.

The CDC recommends the following for health care providers prescribing pain medication:

•Recognize that women are at risk of prescription painkiller overdose.

•Follow guidelines for responsible prescribing, including screening and monitoring for substance abuse and mental health problems.

•Use prescription drug monitoring programs to identify patients who may be improperly obtaining or using prescription painkillers and other drugs.


Source –>     CDC Vital Signs

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