Painkiller Overdoses: Killing More Women Than Car Accidents or Cervical Cancer

Written by Kirsten Gibson

Fatal prescription painkiller overdoses among women have increased 400 percent since 1999. In 2010, about 15,300 women have died from overdoses of all kinds, more than from car accidents or cervical cancer, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s director, Dr. Tom Friedan, characterized the prescription drug overdose epidemic for what it is: “Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are dying at rates that we have never seen before.”

Frieden said doctors are prescribing painkillers too often and too soon, leading to high rates of overdoses — especially in women, according to the L.A. Times.

The women with the highest risk of overdose are white and aged 45 to 54, although women in their 20s and 30s tend to have the highest rates of opioid abuse.

Women are more susceptible, the report’s authors reasoned, because they are more likely to have chronic pain diseases, such as fibromyalgia, and they also have a lower body mass. One doctor said they’re more likely to be prescribed psychotherapeutic drugs, which can be fatal when combined with opiates.

While women are increasingly becoming addicted to and overdosing on prescribed painkillers, the epidemic has had a general negative effect on the United States in the last couple decades. Frieden told the L.A. Times that unless there are severe cases, like cancer patients, other modes of treatment should be explored.

Furthermore, prescription pill abuse has become such a problem in the U.S. that law enforcement officials are trying to figure out creative ways to curb the epidemic. In New York City, for example, officials implanted GPS chips into painkiller bottles in order to track them if stolen.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Photo from Thinkstock


Stacey Toda
Stacey Toda4 years ago

It's sad really

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Shannon Moody
Shannon Moody4 years ago

Painkillers are dangerous. Killed my step-mom at 46 years old, then my mother-in-law at 45 years old. Me, too scared of that crap to even get started. Been smoking my pot for 20 years, don't need anything else, and have never tried anything else. For some reason, i don't worry about dying from a marijuana overdose......

Carole L.
Carole L4 years ago

Maureen L.
“Carole L.--Marijuana may not be physically addictive, but it is psychologically addictive. I have both a daughter and granddaughter who started with pot and wound up on much worse stuff.”

some ppl are just prone to addictive behavior it's just the way it is.

Pinke A.
Pinke A4 years ago

Sounds scary!! I do believe,that my daughter is also using too much painkillers. I think quite so many people,working long days sitting with computer,have the problem.
Pain in the neck,back and the "mouse-hand" !

Ann B.
Ann B4 years ago


Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Julie F.
Julie F4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T4 years ago

Thanks for the article. I've taken pain meds a few times after surgeries and didn't get addicted. Don't see how anyone can get addicted though, they tend to nauseate me. When I don't need them anymore, I just take them back to the pharmacy and they dispose them.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

If this is true, I would really have to question the logic that women can handle pain better than men.