In 2015, National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that the main reasons adults misused prescription pain relievers were to relieve physical pain or for the “feel good” high. This data is coupled with the CDC’s findings that approximately 68% of more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. The statistics are troubling, as opioid overdose rates in the US have continued to rise. Now that middle aged women have been identified as a group significantly affected by pain reliever misuse and overdose, can this increase be attributed to something specific?
Dr. Cooper’s comments bring forth an important point that general addiction treatment models seem to be based on treatment for men. This, combined with the responsibilities of caregiving and employment, creates barriers for women seeking treatment. To combat this, Dr. Cooper suggests that “the most important thing is to create an on-demand drug treatment infrastructure where people get same day treatment.” Specifically for women, she implores that “drug treatment programs need to address trauma as that is an important driver for drug dependence in women.”
There is clearly room for growth and improvement in reducing drug overdose rates in the US. With more available data showing the dangers of opioid addiction and misuse, it is imperative that action steps be taken to combat this harrowing epidemic. As a now nationwide public health concern, it merits active cooperation from physicians, patients, legislators, and health officials alike.
- Van Zee A. (2009). The promotion and marketing of oxycontin: commercial triumph, public health tragedy. American journal of public health, 99(2), 221-7.
- Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Seth, P., Gladden, R. M., Mattson, C. L., Baldwin, G. T., Kite-Powell, A., & Coletta, M. A. (2018). Vital Signs: Trends in Emergency Department Visits for Suspected Opioid Overdoses — United States, July 2016–September 2017. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67(9), 279-285. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6709e1