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CDC: More women overdosing on painkillers

July 10, 2013

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Atlanta – The number of women dying from overdosing on painkillers has increased substantially since 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System and the Drug Abuse Warning Network, CDC researchers identified 15,323 drug overdose deaths among women in 2010 – a fivefold increase from 1999. In 2010, women made 943,365 emergency department visits for drug misuse or abuse – most of which were related to cocaine or heroin, benzodiazepines (a group of depressants that may be prescribed for insomnia or anxiety), and opioid pain relievers.

Although more men die from drug overdoses overall, CDC found the percentage increase in deaths from 1999 to 2010 was greater for women – with more dying from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes.

As a preventive measure, CDC recommended that health care providers screen patients for substance abuse and mental health problems before prescribing painkillers.

The report was published in the July 5 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.