Over the past two decades, the number of drug overdose deaths among women have skyrocketed, according to the findings of a new study that highlights the widespread impact of the on-going opioid epidemic in the United States.
It is no surprise that opioids now account for roughly two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the United States. However, the greatest increases have been seen among women in recent years, with the death rate among certain age groups increasing by 500% from 1999 to 2017.
The findings were published this week in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which analyzed death certificates from all 50 states using data from the National Vital Statistics System. Researchers focused on the cause of death, when drugs were indicated, and which drugs were involved.
The data indicates that overdose deaths for all types of drugs increased 260% among women ages 30–64. Among women ages 55–64, fatal drug overdoses increased nearly five fold, with the rate among ages 35–39 and 45–49 increased two fold, and women ages 30–34 and 50–54 the death rate increasing about 350%.
Death rates involving each type of drug were broken down. Research concluded fatal overdoses among women involving opioids also increased nearly 500% during that time.
Deaths involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, surged an astounding 1,600% among women of all ages. Recent reports warn fentanyl is now linked to more overdose deaths than any other drug in the country, accounting for one-third of all fatal overdoses.
Deaths involving heroin jumped 915% and those involving benzodiazepines increased by 830% among women of all age groups.
What often stems from a legitimate prescription from a doctor for painkillers is now, for many, turning into an addiction which is claiming the lives of many. Studies show many doctors prescribe more opioids than they realize and they are often rewarded by drug companies for doing so.
These habits and patterns often create addictions for patients, who then must turn to illicit methods of obtaining opioids, or lethal synthetics, like fentanyl.
Another new study published this month indicated opioid overdose deaths doubled among pregnant women. Another indicator the opioid epidemic continues to worsen and evolve in recent years. In fact, 70% of overdose deaths now involve opioids.
The new data is quite surprising for many. However, it indicates one key factor, the opioid crisis doesn’t only affect men or young people. It is a national problem affecting women and men of all ages and requires serious interventions.