A Look Into The Female Painkiller Epidemic

shutterstock_110203124The human being’s desire to avoid pain, make it cease and go away, is as old as time itself. In ancient times and down through history, opium was the drug of choice to relieve or alleviate pain.  It was Alexander the Great who named the opium plant, and the Greeks and the Romans used it widely, a means by which to escape the pain and hardship of their military marches and battles.  When the horrors of war became too great, and sleep eluded its warriors, opium could give relief.  The Greek’s word for it was “opionm,” meaning poppy juice.

Present Day Painkillers

The unwillingness to experience and endure pain has not changed since the time times of Alexander the Great.  But how our culture and society deals with pain, or the unwillingness to experience it, certainly has.  Rather than opium, we now have opiods, substances that are like morphine in their physiological effects, particularly their pain-relieving qualities.  The opiods are synthetic narcotics, but are not derived from opium.  Narcotics are drugs such as opium, heroin, and morphine that are capable of relieving pain, dulling the senses and inducing deep sleep if used in moderation.  When used in excess, narcotics can cause stupor, a coma, even convulsions.  Narcotics are also highly addictive.  So we now have both the actual narcotics, and the synthetic narcotics (opiods), commonly known as prescription narcotics.  Unfortunately the prescription narcotics or “prescription painkillers”, share the same quality of being highly addictive to the user, just as actual narcotic drugs are.

In a 2011 report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), synthetic narcotics such as methadone, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone have increased in sales to doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies four-fold in the past 14 years.  And what part do women play in this dramatic increase?

Women and Painkillers

It may be that women are more at risk at becoming dependent on prescription painkillers, and more quickly than men.  According to the Center for Disease Control statistics, the hospitalizations and deaths of women has risen in direct proportion in the increased supplies of the drugs to doctors, pharmacies and hospitals.  A sobering fact, based on the CDC’s information, was the increase in the number of women’s deaths from prescription painkillers between 1999 and 2010, five times as many in a time-span of only 11 years.

The use of the prescription painkillers, Vicodin and Oxycontin, killed 6,631 women in 2010 alone. That same years, heroin and cocaine use combined killed one-fourth as many women as these two opioid painkillers.  And in the eleven years between 1999 and 2010, overdoses of prescription painkillers killed nearly 48,000 women.  That is definitely an epidemic which by definition is that sudden increase in something bad or unpleasant that affects many people.

Another sobering statistic from the CDC, that as of the year 2007, drug overdoses killed more women than car crashes.  And interestingly enough, the highest risk of death from using and abusing prescription painkiller is seen in women ages 45 to 54.

The Use of Painkillers

According to more than one professional working in the field of substance abuse, the prescribing and use of these powerful prescription painkillers should not be done so freely and without unquestionable need, such as in the relief of severe cancer pain, or similar physical conditions.  It is an issue of taking educated responsibility for the wellbeing of the women who come to a practitioner seeking help, and may have no idea of the dangers of potential addiction to the drugs being prescribed.

Once a woman has become trapped in the cycle of addiction, the solution is a proven and successful drug rehabilitation program, the best of which is delivered by Narconon Freedom Center.

To learn more about opiate painkillers see this video on opiate withdrawal and treatment.

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