Prescription Painkiller Overdose – Women Beware!
The CDC published a bewildering report this week publicizing an overwhelming increase in the number of women who overdose on a daily basis from the use of prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Opana, and methadone.
Almost 48,000 women died from prescription painkiller overdose from 1999 to 2010; an increase of 400%! Over 6,600 of those deaths were reported in 2010 alone.
Are Women Being Targeted?
Yes and no. Television and magazine ads for prescription painkillers do tend to target women, but women seem to be seeking relief from chronic pain more than men and are more inclined to stay on them longer, thus becoming more dependent on the drugs than men do. Women are more likely to “doctor shop” than men, obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors at the same time, while men are reluctant to seek medical help. We can’t ignore the glaring fact that there has been an increase in painkiller prescriptions written for women over the past decade as well, all factors that attribute to this growing epidemic.
CDC Recommended Solutions
Federal and State governments can, will, and have begun to step in by putting tracking systems in place to monitor prescription drug overdose trends, providing education about the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers among women, and by evaluating programs that prevent and treat drug abuse overdose. By implementing the Affordable Care Act, they are working to improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment as well.
Healthcare providers are encouraged to look to other pain treatment options as opposed to automatically prescribing painkillers, and to monitor their prescriptions utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs. Ensuring female patients have a full understanding of the risks involved when taking painkillers is also highly recommended.
Women must take responsibility as well by discussing all medications, whether prescribed or over-the-counter, with their doctors and follow prescription directions completely.
Published: July 2013 New Objectives