Skyrocketing Epidemic Among Women: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

It's an increasingly
common story. On March
11, the Tulsa World
reported on a 51-year-old
woman found in her home,
dead of a prescription
drug overdose. She
suffered from back pain
and was taking painkillers
prescribed by her doctor
but took them along with
other prescriptions,
including anti-anxiety
medicine.
She was only one of the
almost 7,000 women who
will die from prescription
painkiller overdoses this
year.
Prescription opioid deaths
among women have
skyrocketed -- increasing
fivefold since 1999. Our
mothers, wives, sisters and
daughters are dying from
these overdoses at rates
never seen before. Every
three minutes, a woman
visits an emergency
department for opioid
misuse or abuse. That
accounts for more than
200,000 emergency
department visits a year.
Stopping this epidemic is
everyone's business, and it
can be done. CDC is here
to support those efforts.
Health care providers can
follow guidelines for
responsible painkiller
prescribing and talk with
their patients about the
risks and benefits of
taking prescription
painkillers. Using
prescription drug
monitoring programs is an
important step in
identifying patients who
may be improperly using
prescription painkillers.
Women should use pain
medication only as
directed and talk with
their doctor about all
drugs they're taking,
including over-the-counter
medications. Store
prescription drugs in a
secure place and properly
dispose of them as soon as
treatment is over. And
never share prescription
drugs with anyone else.
Together we can reduce
the risk of overdose among
women, and men, while
making sure patients have
access to safe, effective
pain treatment.