Studies Illustrate Opioids’ Growing Toll on Women

A recent government report revealed that between 1999 and 2015, the rate of prescription opioid overdose deaths among women increased 471%, compared to a 218% increase among men; and heroin-related deaths among women increased at more than twice the rate among men.(1) Another study showed a disproportionate rise in opioid-related hospitalizations among women.(2) Novus Detox Center, a preeminent Florida-based drug treatment provider, aims to create awareness of the growing threat opioids pose to women, available opioid alternatives, and the critical need for appropriate detox and drug treatment programs.

In addition to the dramatic surge in prescription opioid and heroin overdose deaths, the U.S. Office on Women’s Health (OWH) reported that females also had a “startling” 850% increase in synthetic opioid overdose fatalities over the same period.(1) Another group of researchers examined opioid-related hospitalizations from 2005 to 2014 and found a 75% increase among women versus 55% among men.(2) Furthermore, women had a higher rate of opioid-related inpatient stays in 33 of the 45 states included in the study.(2)

The OWH analysis highlighted several key trends regarding women’s patterns of opioid use:

  • Women are more likely than men to suffer from chronic pain, and subsequently use prescription opioid pain relievers for longer periods and in higher doses; and
  • Women who use opioids progress to dependence more quickly than men and experience greater cravings than men.(1)

“In light of these findings, I would urge physicians to exercise extreme caution when prescribing opioids to women,” said Kent Runyon, Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center. “Too many doctors and patients regard opioids as a quick fix for pain, yet these medications can severely compromise…

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