Painkiller Overdose Deaths
Spike in Women

July 5, 2013 | Marie Calloway

A new analysis of federal data has found that women — especially white women in rural areas in the 45-54 age range — are dying of prescription pain pill overdose in alarmingly rising rates, increasing fivefold since 1999. According to the New York Times, “Prescription pain pill addiction was originally seen as a man’s problem, a national epidemic that began among workers doing backbreaking labor in the coal mines and factories of Appalachia.” Now, more women are now dying from pain pill overdoses than cervical cancer and homicide.

Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Nora Volkow explains the trend, pointing out that women are being prescribed anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication more often than men and in larger doses, in addition to painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, increasing chances of overdose.

Some women who struggled with painkiller addiction and saw their friends, family, and peers go through it — or die — disagreed. They spoke of their turn to prescription drug abuse coming from, “feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities [and craving] the numbness that drugs bring” — a reasonable, non-gender-specific assertion.

Though Dr. Volkow stated that stresses of unemployment and single-parent families are unlikely to directly correlate with pain killer abuse, but I’m left wondering about the supposed “Mancession” and of the increasing pressure of the new economy puts on women. (Photo: DEA)