A professor of pain studies at a prestigious university has recently come forth and stated that women really do feel more chronic pain than men. Given this information, I am not surprised to learn that the percentage of U.S. women who have overdosed on prescription painkillers has sharply increased over the past several years. From 1999 to 2010, the proportion of deaths attributed to women overdosing on painkillers has risen sharply by 400 percent. In contrast, the rates only rose by 265 percent among men. On July 2, 2013, Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, stated that women were overdosing at rates never before seen, and new studies are showing that this trend has continued well into 2015.
Effectively Managing Pain
Since women deal with chronic pain more often than men, it’s more likely that they will be prescribed painkillers for their problems. This can result in women becoming more dependent on the drugs as a way of coping. The more often painkillers are prescribed, the more it becomes a daily habit to numb the pain with opiate painkillers. Casual use can lead to not paying attention to warning labels, which can further complicate the problem. Women experience more life-threatening consequences as the result of taking painkillers in part due to their generally lighter frames. This can result in a greater level of addiction, and the risks of taking pain medications may far outweigh the benefits for certain at-risk women.
Carefully Review Labels
While patients should talk about any concerns they have with their healthcare professional, I am deeply concerned about women who are pregnant and in danger of passing on a drug addiction to their baby. The addiction may require medical intervention early on. So, it’s important to discuss all medications with your doctor and pharmacist. Women should take control over their prescriptions and make sure to keep track of all of their prescriptions. Families should be aware of any changes in mood and temperament and be willing to get help for addicted individuals.
Conditions Treated by Painkillers
Women are also at greater risk of developing migraines. Because of this, they are more likely to be given painkillers to help alleviate symptoms. According to the CDC, women are more likely to get addicted to the painkillers quickly. The death rate for abuse is highest among women who are between the ages of 45 to 54, but all women are at risk of overdosing from painkillers. The problem is serious, and in 2010, four times the number of women died from prescription painkillers than from cocaine and heroine overdoses combined.
Getting Help for Addiction
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, I strongly urge you to not try to treat the addiction on your own. Getting appropriate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a professional setting may be necessary to stop an addictive cycle. Women should be aware that they are at a greater risk of developing a dependency on opiate painkillers, and steps should be taken to ensure that addiction doesn’t set in.