In a recent report by the CDC, women are abusing and dying more from prescription painkillers than ever before.
Statistics revealed by the agency on July 2, show that over the last 10 years, deaths by prescription painkiller overdose increased nearly 400%, claiming the lives of almost 48,000 women. In addition, they found that about half of all overdose deaths in women were due to prescription painkillers.
Opiates and narcotics like OxyCodone and Vicodin are commonly used to treat pain, but too often they are either miused or intentionally abused. In 2010, the rate of women entering the ER for prescription painkiller related-issues was about 1 every 3 minutes.
At the same time this is not a female-only issue. Men’s deaths by painkillers rose 265%, but the women’s rate clearly escalated dramatically.
Studies show that women are more likely to feel chronic pain and to be prescribed pain killers than men, in addition, are more likely to become addicted to them.
What is the reason that these rates have grown so quickly, and why is it that women are falling victim to prescription pain killer addiction?
There is definitely a misconception in society that because painkillers come from a doctor, they are safer and less taboo to use recreationally.
In the instance of women, it may be that they are even glamorized. Unlike alcohol or other drugs with a “dirty” stigma, pills are odorless and can be taken discreetly. They may be using pills to self-medicate or recreationally, but the bottom line is if a prescription is taken outside of its advised use, it is dangerous, and too often deadly.
The problem stems from many causes and bridges many age groups. While the patient can be seen as the source of their own affliction, the responsibility strongly lies with doctors as well.
Doctors need to be more diligent when prescribing painkillers and need to more thoroughly go over the risks of misusing them. They also need to be on the lookout for women who may be abusing their medication. Women that frequently refill prescriptions or who use multiple doctors to get their pills, also known as "doctor shopping," are clearly misusing the drugs and are at the highest risk of becoming a part of these disturbing statistics.
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