According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women between the ages of 45 and 54 had the highest increases in overdose deaths between 1999 and 2010. The CDC study also found that women in general are dying from prescription drug overdoses more than men.
The rate of overdoses in women increased by 400% between 1999 and 2010. Intentional overdoses or suicide accounted for 12% of those deaths and the rest were accidental from taking too many opiates or mixing opiates with other substances like benzodiazepines, Valium or alcohol.
So what causes women, especially middle-aged women, to have a higher risk than men? Some experts say that women experience more chronic pain than men, are more often prescribed pain medication and take the medication for longer than men. Also, more people in general are being prescribed painkillers that don’t actually need them.
Although prescription monitoring programs are a plausible solution, they haven’t sorted out all the kinks yet to track prescriptions of each individual patient and flag those that are contraindicated. It also isn’t a solution for those who engage in doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions to support their addiction. This is because addiction treatment requires more complex care than limiting the substance an addict is abusing.
Addiction rehab centers across the US have vamped up their drug treatment programs for adults and older adults and specific tracks for those that need opiate addiction or prescription pain addiction treatment. Detoxification followed by evidence based treatment such as group, individual and 12 step programs are promising for this demographic to confront their opiate addiction and to lower the incidence of overdose.