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Opiod Addiction Rate Growing at a Faster Clip for Women than Men

Filed July 3rd, 2013 edlieber1

New government research shows that more women have become addicted to opioid painkillers than men in recent years.

According to, there was a 415% increase in opioid painkiller-related deaths among women compared with a 265% increase among men, between 1999 and 2010. The study was conducted by Karin Mack, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues. Researchers found that 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010. Even more concerning is that the deaths appear to be growing by the year. Nearly 6,600 of the female deaths occurred in 2010 alone, reported. For comparison, in 1999 there were 1,287 female deaths connected to opioid painkillers.

Emergency room visits related to prescription opioid misuse or abuse increased more than twofold among women between 2004 and 2010. According to the study, overdose rates were highest among women ages 25 to 34, reaching nearly 50,000 emergency room visits for opioid painkillers in 2010.

Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told that the increase may be related to the fact that women are more likely to endure chronic pain than men, and are therefore more likely to be prescribed prescription opioid painkillers. He also said that women are often prescribed greater doses of these drugs than men, even though women are more likely to have adverse events from the higher doses.

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