A Surge In Painkiller Overdoses Among Women | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

A Surge In Painkiller Overdoses Among Women

Women are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers at a much higher rate than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while men still suffer more overdoses, women are catching up fast.

From 1999 to 2010, the CDC found a fivefold increase in the number and rate of such cases among middle-aged women. Over the same period, the rate of overdoses from prescription painkillers increased 3.5 times in men.

"In 2010, more than 6,600 women died from prescription painkillers — four times as many as died from cocaine and heroin combined," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a media briefing.

Older women between the ages of 45 and 54 — were at highest risk of abusing pain medication. The CDC released the findings Tuesday. It has tracked the relationship between painkiller use and overdoses for years.

Pain specialist Lynn Webster, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, women often have an array of different medications at home that can be dangerous or deadly, if taken in combination.

"They're often stereotyped as being more emotional and psychological," Webster said. "The first line of therapy often is a sedative that treats emotional side as opposed to the pain."

The CDC has called for greater public and medical community awareness of the risk. Pain specialists note there are other ways to treat chronic pain symptoms, but often these methods, such as acupuncture and cognitive therapy, aren't covered by insurance.

Here are some takeaways from the CDC report.


Loads of Pills for the Nation's Pain

In 2010, enough opioid pain relievers were sold to medicate every adult in the United States every 4 hours for a month.

More Women In The Hospital

The death rate for pain pill overdose is higher for men than women, but over the last 20 years more women wound up in the hospital after overdoses.

Pain And Women

The CDC found women more often than men report common forms of pain experienced for longer periods of time. Women also reportedly felt the pain more intensely. That may be why women are more likely than men to be prescribed pain pills at higher doses, and to use them on a regular basis.

Unsafe Shopping

When a doctor refuses to prescribe pain pills, women often search for a different physician who will write them a prescription.


Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Hundreds Brave Frigid Temperatures To Celebrate Kite Festival

There was plenty of wind to lift kites of all shapes and sizes at the National Blossom Kite Festival Sunday; at least for those who could brave the cold.

NPR

Cheez Whiz Helped Spread Processed Foods. Will It Be Squeezed Out?

Turns out, the history of Kraft's dull-orange cheese spread says a lot about the processed food industry — and where it might be headed as Kraft and Heinz merge.
NPR

Indiana Governor: Lawmakers To 'Clarify' Anti-Gay Law

Mike Pence, who signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week, says he didn't anticipate the level of hostility the law has engendered.
NPR

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.