Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
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Drug overdoses among middle-aged women in US soar

Drug overdoses among middle-aged women in US soar

In this age group, the rate of death involving synthetic opioids increased 1,643%, while the rate for heroin rose 915% and for benzodiazepines the rate jumped 830%.

"While prescription opioids are still the main driver of the current opioid epidemic, it's important to acknowledge the sharp rise of fentanyl-laced heroin for the increased numbers of deaths, driven by cheap, illicitly manufactured fentanyl from China and Southeast Asia making its way onto the streets in the US", he told CBS News.

The report concludes that overdose deaths continue to be "unacceptably high" and more targeted efforts are needed "to reduce the number of deaths in this evolving epidemic of middle-aged women".

The report involved nationwide mortality data on people living in the United States between 1999 and 2017.

The CDC analyzed death certificates from all 50 states in their report.

In 1999, the average age of a fatal OD in middle-aged women was 43.5 years, but by 2017 it had risen to 46.3 years, Mack's team reported. The sharpest increases in the average age of women dying from overdoses were with antidepressants (just over 4 years), prescription opioids (4.5 years), and cocaine (close to 5 years).

The rise in deaths also varied by age and drug categories in the data. During that time, deaths from drug overdoses of all types increased 260% among women in that same age group.


Glatter notes that while men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol compared with women, data also indicates that women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder.

The report had some limitations, including that some deaths could have involved more than one substance. In addition, changes in testing over time - for example, the decisions to test for a wider range of substances - could lead to some of the increases described in the report.

In 1999, drug overdose was behind about seven of every 100,000 deaths among middle-aged women.

Men may be more likely than women to use nearly all types of illicit drugs, but women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder, and women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse - key phases of the addiction cycle, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This finding is further supported by previous studies that have found a recent increase in overdose deaths and drug-related emergency department visits for women ages 45 to 64, the researchers wrote. "It's inaccurate", he said.

- Women, particularly older ones, dying from drug overdoses in the United States is a growing problem.

"Moreover, certain mental health issues - such as anxiety and depression - tend to occur at higher rates in women, which create profound obstacles to engagement in care", he said. "You want to adequately treat people [for pain], but you want to make sure that people don't think these drugs are safer than they are".

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