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CDC: Painkiller deaths in women rise 400 percent in last decade

Every day, approximately 18 women in the United States die of a prescription drug overdose, according to a startling new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Between the years of 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died from painkiller overdoses, an increase of 400 percent over the entire period. Although men are still more likely to die of a prescription drug overdose, the gap between the sexes is rapidly closing. Public health officials attribute this to the growing number of prescriptions written by physicians to treat pain. 

"We need to better understand how dangerous these drugs are," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told CBS News. "They shouldn't be used lightly, [only] where they are essential, necessary, something like severe cancer pain, they are important tools. But all too often, the risks are way higher than the benefits because it may be a lifelong addiction."

According to the study, women are becoming more vulnerable to prescription drug addiction and subsequent overdoses because they are more likely to have chronic pain and be given painkillers at higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men. Their lower body masses may make them dependent more quickly than men and they may be more to engage in "doctor shopping."

The CDC recommends that health care providers learn to recognize the sign of painkiller addiction, follow guidelines for responsible prescribing and use monitoring databases before writing any new prescriptions for male or female patients. 

Don't let an important woman in your life become a part of these disturbing statistics. If you need help, contact Intervention Services. We can connect you with a professional interventionist who can guide your loved one into an effective treatment plan. 

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