Killing more than pain: Deaths of women from prescription overdose rises 400 percent

Killing more than pain: Deaths of women from prescription overdose rises 400 percent

(Times Free Press 9/16/13)

About once every 80 minutes in 2010, an American woman made a fatal mistake. She took medicine. About 18 women died every day that year from prescription drug overdose, according to a study released in July by the Centers for Disease Control. In all, more than 6,600 women nationwide overdosed and died in 2010 while taking prescriptions, an increase of more than 400 percent compared to overdose fatality rates in 1999. Between 1999 and 2010, about 48,000 women -- 6,000 more than the entire population of Cleveland, Tenn. -- died from overdoses, the CDC reports. In the same timeframe, men's overdose numbers climbed by 265 percent. "Women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses at rates never seen before," the CDC says. And it's a trend showing up here. "[Treating] people who are fresh off the streets ... we're certainly seeing a lot of women who are abusing prescription drugs," says Dr. Thomas Cable, who maintains a private practice on Market Street in addition to serving as medical director of the Volunteer Treatment Center, a methadone clinic on Rossville Boulevard. Physicians aren't positive why the overdose rates for women are increasing, but the evidence is there, says Dr. Mitchell Mutter, a former cardiologist at Erlanger hospital. He now serves as medical director of special projects for the Tennessee Department of Health and says considers ending prescription drug abuse to be his "day job." "I think women are coming more into the drug culture and, unless we interrupt this in some way, their overdose death rates will continue to climb," Mutter says. "We don't have hard data to prove why it's trending higher in women. We just know it's a fact." The CDC study suggests several reasons for the discrepancy between overdose death rates for women and men. Women, findings suggest, can become dependent on prescription painkillers more quickly than men. They also are more likely to engage in "doctor shopping" -- seeking multiple prescriptions from different prescribers -- are more likely to have chronic pain, more likely to be prescribed a higher dose and tend to use medications longer than men, the CDC says. "In general, middle-aged women are at higher risk than younger women for prescription painkiller overdose death," Dr. Karin Mack, science officer of the CDC's Injury Center and one of the authors of the report, told The Orange County Register. "Women in this age group may be more likely than younger ages to have chronic pain conditions. " Dr. C. Philip O'Carroll, program director for the neurobehavioral medicine program at Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, Calif., says the problem of women and painkiller abuse "doesn't conform to the usual rules of disease." "When you're dealing with a terminal patient in the hospital, or an older person with painful shingles, it's clear what to do," he told the Orange County Register. "But when the person sitting in front of you is complaining of chronic daily head or back pain, or TMJ, it can be a crushing dilemma." The core of the problem could be as rooted as much in the psychological as it is the physiological, says Diane Monteleone, the program director at Focus Treatment Center, a substance addiction treatment facility on Shallowford Road.


The Grundy Safe Communities Coalition is now offering TIPS training for RESPONSIBLE BEVERAGE SERVICE. This training is now available for vendors that sell alcoholic beverages and wish to be in compliance with the Responsible Vendor Act.
If you wish to take this training it will be held on August 16th at 1 PM at the UT extension Office in Coalmont. Participants must register by calling 931-692-3058. All participants will need to be 18 years old or older and be on time with a valid government issued ID.
Program Duration: 3 hours

Target Audience: grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations, and convenience stores.
The Challenges: Even when alcohol is sold "to go," employees may encounter alcohol-related problems. Clerks must be especially careful to avoid selling alcohol to underage or intoxicated customers and they usually have little time to assess the situation when making the sale.

The Solution: TIPS for Off Premise teaches your staff how to recognize when a customer is intoxicated or underage. In addition to preventing the illegal sale of alcohol, store employees learn how to handle intoxicated customers and keep them from harming themselves and others. The intervention techniques reflect the short period of time a clerk has to interact with a customer.
Additional Benefits: TIPS can help improve relations with your community. TIPS training demonstrates a commitment to work to prevent alcohol-related problems and a desire to be a part of the solution. Liquor boards and local authorities tend to look favorably on stores that incorporate TIPS, which can lead to more lenient penalties in the event of a liquor violation. TIPS for Off Premise can also help a store protect itself from possible litigation and often results in reduced liability insurance premiums