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New Study Shows Women are Hit Hardest as Opioid Epidemic Sweeps the Country
Date:2/27/2017

Much attention has been paid to the problem of men suffering from substance use disorder, but concern for women who become dependent on opioid painkillers has fallen short. From 1999 until 2010, fatal overdoses from prescription pain medications rose by 400% among female patients, compared to a 237% increase in fatal overdoses in male populations.(1)

The proportion of women using illicit drugs is also increasing at a faster rate than of men, but physician referrals to appropriate detox and treatment facilities are low. Only 3.2% of women are referred to detox programs, regardless of whether or not they would like such a referral. While women are more likely to receive individual counseling, they are less likely to take advantage of detox programs, even if they are referred to such programs.(2)

Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center, explained, “For women, there are different factors that contribute to the development of long-term substance use disorders that men simply do not experience. It is critically important to get women who are struggling with substance use disorders into appropriate detox programs, where they can take the critically important initial steps on the path toward recovery.”

Barriers to effective treatment for women with substance use disorders are many. Responsibilities to children and the household can make some women unwilling to seek professional help, and risk factors such as emotional and psychological distress are more commonly identified in women.(1) Many women are financially dependent on spouses, and cannot afford treatment on their own.(2)

The process of becoming addicted often follows a different pathway for women than with men. In general, women use smaller amounts of opioids for shorter lengths of time before they become addicted. They may become addicted to opioid medications faster than men, and some studies have suggested that women are more sensitive to opioid-related cravings.(1)

Women are also more likely to be given concurrent prescriptions for both opioids and benzodiazepines, which can create a dangerous combination of effects.(3) And an especially troubling and common problem among women with substance use disorders is that of “doctor shopping.” For years, physicians have recognized the potential dangers in prescribing a patient opioids and benzodiazepines at the same time. Many women who struggle with substance use disorder get around this by obtaining prescriptions from multiple physicians at different healthcare facilities. Approximately 500,000 people nationwide engage in doctor shopping every year, many of them women.(4)

The impact of addiction to prescription pain medications is significant. Since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than from car accidents.(3) Every three minutes, a woman is admitted to her local emergency room for abuse of prescription painkillers.(3)

Runyon said, “Emergency Department doctors should be especially concerned with the number of women who are seen in their facilities. If a woman comes in and is struggling with a substance use disorder, the best thing you can do is refer her to a safe, effective detox program manned by competent, experienced medical professionals.”

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and are designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity to medical detoxing, with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate for patients who are fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source for media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500, and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit http://novusdetox.com.

Sources:
1.    White Paper: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women. Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/white-paper-opioid-508.pdf
2.    Gender differences in emergency department visits and detox referrals for illicit and nonmedical use of opioids. The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899061/
3.    CDC seminar addresses challenges of opioid abuse in women. The American Journal of Managed Care. http://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/cdc-seminar-addresses-challenges-of-opioid-abuse-in-women
4.    Nurse working to stop doctor shopping: studies and counsels women who abuse prescription medication. Rush University. https://www.rushu.rush.edu/news/nurse-working-stop-doctor-shopping

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/02/prweb14096918.htm.


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