Women and Overdose

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Women and Overdose

About once every 80 minutes in 2010, an American woman made a fatal mistake. She took medicine. About 18 women died every day that year from prescription drug overdose, according to a study released in July by the Centers for Disease Control. In all, more than 6,600 women nationwide overdosed and died in 2010 while taking prescriptions, an increase of more than 400 percent compared to overdose fatality rates in 1999. Between 1999 and 2010, about 48,000 women — 6,000 more than the entire population of Cleveland, Tenn. — died from overdoses, the CDC reports. In the same timeframe, men’s overdose numbers climbed by 265 percent.

Women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses at rates never seen before. Physicians aren’t positive why the overdose rates for women are increasing. The CDC study suggests several reasons for the discrepancy between overdose death rates for women and men. Women, findings suggest, can become dependent on prescription painkillers more quickly than men. They also are more likely to engage in “doctor shopping” — seeking multiple prescriptions from different prescribers — are more likely to have chronic pain, more likely to be prescribed a higher dose and tend to use medications longer than men, the CDC says.

The core of the problem could be as rooted as much in the psychological as it is the physiological, says Diane Monteleone, the program director at Focus Treatment Center, a substance addiction treatment facility on Shallowford Road.

A study released in June by the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center found that about 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication, and about half take two or more. The third most-prescribed drug class among those studied were opioids — opiate derivatives — such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. According to the CDC, enough prescriptions were written in 2010 to medicate every adult in the United States around-the-clock for a month. In 2009, U.S. payments for prescription medications were about $250 billion, about 12 percent of all personal health care expenditure nationwide. Not all prescription abuse begins legally. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about one-third of those who began using drugs that year started by taking prescription substances non-medically. About 70 percent acquired their pills through friends or relatives; another 5 percent purchased them from a drug dealer or off the Internet.

At Seabrook we can provide intervention services. Highly qualified and certified Family Intervention specialists can help you deal with the person, the problem and the elements unique to your personal or professional situation. There are various modes of Family Intervention that each require a certain amount of preparation time but in most cases, Family Intervention results in immediate entry into detox, alcohol rehab, drug rehab or other appropriate treatment setting.