Four-hundred percent more women are dying

Four-hundred percent more women are dying

Four-hundred percent more women are dying

New CDC report on prescription painkiller death rise among women

Released earlier this week, a research report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) shows the rise in deaths from prescription painkillers among women has increased 400 percent in the last 13 years.

Shocked? You aren’t alone.

These numbers have gone viral this week, with reports hitting every major news service from the Wall Street Journal to NPR.

  • Between 1999 and 2010 the number of women dying from prescription painkiller overdoses has increased five-fold
  • Women ages 45 to 54 have the highest risk of dying from a prescription painkiller overdose.
  • 1 in 10 suicides among women involve prescription painkillers (48,000 women between 199 and 2010)
  • For every woman that has died from a prescription painkiller overdose, there are 30 more who have ended up in the emergency room for abuse or misuse of these same drugs

More men are still dying from overdoses than women are, but with these new statistics, more women are definitely closing the gap. This is not a race that anyone is going to win.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is extremely concerned about these trends.

“Prescription painkiller deaths have skyrocketed in women (6,600 in 2010), four times as many as died from cocaine and heroin combined,” Frieden said. “Stopping this epidemic in women – and men – is everyone’s business. Doctors need to be cautious about prescribing and patients about using these drugs.”

Eighteen times a day women are found dead from prescription drug related overdoses in the United States.

Why are these numbers increasing? Is it a medical problem? Something about American life or society? Lack of services, or lack of information and education?

Individuals, the medical and mental health community, and government on both the local and national level can play a positive role in slowing down and reversing these distressing numbers.

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