The use and abuse of prescription drugs over the last decade has become an epidemic. On it’s own, this is a tremendous problem that we’re faced with and need to solve. However, the problem becomes even more of an issue for specific groups because they seem to be impacted at a much higher rate than the general population.
Over the last decade, there has been a 400% increase in deaths among women due to prescription drug overdose. This is staggering.
This epidemic has been called a “tsunami” by Dr. C. Phillip O’Carroll. Dr. O’Carroll is from the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport and is the director of the neurobehavioral medicine program.
When looking at these deaths, those at middle-age appear to be at the highest risk. This is due to two reasons. One is that women this age are more likely to suffer from chronic pain problems than those who are younger. This is due to the natural aging process.
The second reason middle aged women seem to be impacted is that since these women have been dealing with on-going conditions, their doctors have probably needed to increase their dosage over time due to the long-term nature of the problem. A higher dosage leads you to a greater risk of overdosing.
In addition, many times doctors are in a difficult position of having to diagnose patients who are suffering from chronic pain that has both a physical as well as emotional components.
One study reviewed a group of women who moved from acute pain to chronic pain. They found that 85% of those women had a history of severe emotional distress due to physical abuse, emotional abuse or a bad accident of some kind.
Those issues force them to deal with chronic stress, in addition to their chronic pain. Peter R Prezekop, the director of the pain management division of the Betty Ford Center believes this is the component that turns people from prescription drug users to those who abuse them and put themselves at greater risk of overdose.
Several other health concerns that seem to target women are also to blame. These include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches because of the combination of physical and emotional pain.
Why Use Them?
These types of prescription pain killers are prescribed because they are the best option at the doctor’s disposal. These drugs hit the part of the brain that simply let’s you feel good, which relieves both aspects of the pain.
However, it’s very apparent that both the doctors who are prescribing these drugs and the patients who are receiving them need to be made more aware of the dangers they pose.