If someone were to ask you which age group and gender were most likely to suffer a fatal overdose from drugs, you might guess young males. But this is not the group that has been recently raising the alarm and attracting the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to recent reports, middle-aged women are dying in record numbers from prescription drug overdoses.
The CDC has determined that between 1999 and 2010, the rate of death for women from prescription drug overdoses has increased by 400%. This is an astounding jump in a relatively short time period. The drugs that are causing so many tragedies (by some estimates, as many as 42 women die every day from a drug overdose) are prescription painkillers. Tom Frieden, the Director for the CDC, noted that 6,600 women died in 2010 from prescription pill overdose. If you don’t think that this number sounds alarming, consider that this is four times the number of deaths from cocaine and heroin combined. Prescription painkillers have become a serious health concern for women.
The CDC suggests that preventive measures involve screening women for mental health problems. It could be that many women are suffering from stress, anxiety, and/or depression. They go to their doctors complaining of physical symptoms, however, and are prescribed with painkillers. Another likely scenario is that women who are suffering from chronic pain are prescribed painkillers and do not adhere to dosage recommendations. They may already be taking other medication that ups their risk for an adverse reaction once they start taking painkillers. And then too, there is the problem of women having access to painkillers that were prescribed to someone else.
Whatever lies behind this recent spate of deaths, the CDC hopes that patients will discuss other treatment options with their doctor—especially those that don’t involve prescription drugs.
Chronic pain symptoms often go hand-in-hand with symptoms of depression and anxiety. It’s important to treat the whole picture when it comes to your health. Taking prescription drugs indefinitely may not be the best treatment. There are other ways to get the body healthy that are gentler and kinder.
There is a lot of clinical evidence that certain forms of exercise like yoga can improve symptoms of pain over time. While yoga can’t immediately numb pain like a painkiller, it can strengthen and tone the body in ways that can be remarkably healing.
There is also evidence that a healthy diet can play a significant role in reducing inflammation that flares up both in muscles and tendons but also in individual cells. Inflammation is the major precursor in chronic pain. It may take some time to slow down inflammation with healthy foods and exercise, but eventually the effects will be felt.
Massage therapy is another treatment option that has shown good results in remediating chronic pain. The advantage of these three therapies is that they could also simultaneously help to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Trying out some of these other treatments for chronic pain should help lower the necessity for taking painkillers and may even erase the need for them altogether.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Sack, D., “Women and Prescription Drugs: The Gender Gap Tightens,” Huffington Post Addiction and Recovery web site, August 21, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sack-md/prescription-drug-abuse_b_3756121.html, last accessed August 22, 2013.
Hassed, C., et al., “Mind-body therapies–use in chronic pain management,” Aust Fam Physician. March 2013; 42(3): 112-7.
“New CDC Vital Signs: Prescription Painkiller Epidemic Among Women,” CDC Newsroom web site; http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2013/dpk-Prescription%20drug%20overdose.html, last accessed August 21, 2013.