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Posted on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

CDC: Prescription painkiller deaths among women grew by 400 percent in last decade

By Kyle Feldscher

The number of women dying from prescription drug overdoses grew by 400 percent from 1999 to 2010, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That compares to an increase of 265 percent in the number of men who died from similar overdoses during the same period.

The new CDC statistics show that women between the ages of 25 and 54 are more likely than other age groups to need treatment for prescription painkiller abuse. Women between the ages of 45 and 54 have the highest risk of dying from a prescription painkiller overdoses, according to the CDC.

“This rise relates closely to increased prescribing of these drugs during the past decade,” the report states.

Officials in Washtenaw County have pointed to prescription painkillers as one of the main reasons for an increase in heroin usage in the area. Opioid painkillers are highly addictive and are often expensive, leading addicts to search for cheaper alternatives such as heroin.

Men are still more likely to die from a prescription drug overdose — more than 10,000 men died of such overdoses in 2010, compared to 6,600 women — but concern is growing about women using the drugs.

According to the CDC, women are more likely to have chronic pain that requires a prescription, may become dependent more quickly than men and may be more likely to engage in “doctor shopping” — the practice of going to multiple doctors to get pills.

Prescription painkillers are defined in the report as opioid or narcotic pain relievers. Examples such as Vicodin, OcyContin, Opana and methadone are given.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

The fact that these drugs are prescribed shows that there is an underlying problem with our medical care philosophy. We are using medical care primarily to cure sickness or to obtain relief from symptoms. I suggest that we may use medical intervention to keep ourselves in good and positive health. People who enjoy positive health are more likely to resist stress and are more likely to be more pain tolerant. I have observed that people who are pain tolerant and pain resistant have the ability to avoid the use of narcotic drugs for obtaining pain relief. The practical way to prevent the use and abuse of prescription drugs for pain relief involves the art of keeping people in positive health. We may not wait until people seek intervention for illness or injury.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

So are these mostly suicides or accidental overdoses? And of the latter, are they typically in people who are addicted or are they occurring in those temporarily taking the medications? The whole article is pretty short on these kinds of details. Not trying to judge, but the various problems would likely have far different solutions.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

There is a fine line between accidental and intentional overdose. People with near-misses usually can't tell the difference, and the ones who succeed don't leave a lot of clues.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 3:50 a.m.

We were to have this "war on drugs" Yet the end result after 30-40 years is more people use some type of drugs, pills and booze leads the way.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

I was addicted for 7 years. I was stupid no one wants to become addicted. on July 13 I will be one year clean. I knew I would be using heroin or dead within year or less. I am not proud of my past. But excited about my future. I feel for everyone addicted. Get help it can be free it's such a better life I never want to feel that high again. One day at a time.


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

Hang in there, no point in looking back. Can't change the past but can learn from it.


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

...outside the door, she took four more...


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

What a drag it is getting old...


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 3:54 a.m.

That was kiddie stuff compare to some of the stuff today

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

"This rise relates closely to increased prescribing of these drugs during the past decade" Any suggestions how we might reduce these deaths in the future?


Tue, Jul 2, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

Easy opium, straight from the doctor, blessed by the FDA. No need to deal with shady junkie dealers for heroin of questionable quality. What's not to like?


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

It does seem to work for some addicts, those safe injection sites some countries allow. OD deaths are very rare since nurses and doctors help run the clinics. Overtime some addicts get clean but not all and maybe why its frown upon by some.