With all this talk of 50 being the new 40, and 40 being the new 30 (etc.), it's beginning to look like the problems of younger people are also showing up in women at an age where one might think those issues should no longer apply.
I wrote an article for EmpowHER many years ago about the rise of eating disorders in older women. One of the reasons discussed was the pressure on older women to remain youthful as long as possible, and facing more pressure than generations before. That article can be read here: https://www.empowher.com/community/share/no-longer-young-disease-eating-...
Another recent finding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that women are overdosing on drugs more than ever, and may even catch up to the numbers of men who do the same. In fact, most of the cases of female overdoses are being seen in middle-aged women.
They are the fastest growing population of those hospitalized for overdoses. The Associated Press reported the numbers in a recent article, seen on NPR's website.
While the occurrence of male overdoses has increased by 3.5 times, the largest growth in numbers is with women. There's been a five time increase between 1999 and 2010.
As to why this may be happening, researchers believe that women may suffer from more chronic pain than men and could be prescribed medication in higher doses than men. Women may also tend to shop around for different doctors in order to get more medications and hope that nobody knows what they are doing.
Another issue may be that doctors could look on men as more likely to abuse painkillers so less focus or scrutiny is given to women. More men end up in hospital due to overdoses, compounding the notion that men are far more likely to abuse prescription drugs. So women seem to be able to slide a little more when it comes to doctor-shopping.
Of the drug overdoses that result in death, the CDC believes that up to 70 percent were accidental overdoses, as opposed to suicides or attempted suicides.
The FDA is trying to educate doctors to look more carefully for the signs of painkiller abuse. In a 2012 EmpowHER article, it was reported that the FDA was mandating that all companies who make painkillers like Oxycontin, Vicodin and other narcotics pay for educational courses for medical professionals. The goal is to teach them how to properly administer the drug, how to counsel the patients, and look for signs of abuse.
The article also stated that the FDA "requires companies to develop a one-page information sheet for people who take the painkillers that includes safety information and explains how to discard the pills."
Doctors are also looking into other ways, such as alternative medications/physical therapy, to control pain management in their patients, in order to lessen the risks of addiction. With the number of abuses rising, this is certainly something that needs to happen far sooner than later.
NPR.org. Drug Overdose Deaths Spike Among Middle-Aged Women. Web. Retrieved July 5th, 2013.
EmpowHER.com. Addictions. "US FDA focuses on training to stem painkiller abuse". Web. Retrieved July 5th, 2013.
Reviewed July 5, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith