Throughout the U.S., more than 115 Americans die daily after overdosing on opioids (CDC, 2017). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018a, 2018b), the misuse of and addiction to opioids (including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl) are contributing to the national crisis affecting the public’s health.
Unfortunately, the number of women impacted by opioids is dramatically increasing and in some geographical areas such as Ohio, are well surpassing their male counterparts. In neighboring Summit County, a report from March 9 – March 15, 2018 indicated that nearly 60% of all Summit County residents who sought emergency treatment after overdosing during that week were women (Akron Beacon Journal, 2018).
Here in Richland County, opioid data collected by Richland Public Health (2018) since January of 2018 indicates that 46% of overdose cases were women. While anyone here in Richland County can be affected by the recent opioid epidemic, recent research findings have identified specific differences in how women experience pain and over utilize opioid drugs.
According to a recently published peer-reviewed article by Koons et al. (2018), there are many differences between men and women when it comes to the diagnoses related to pain, pain perception, opioid disbursement, response to opioids, opioid use disorder, and psychosocial factors. Historically, women experience more pain-related diseases and have an increased sensitivity to the perception of pain. With a higher prevalence of painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, and joint inflammation, women are often times prescribed opioid treatments to help reduce uncomfortable symptoms. Women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are susceptible to opioid abuse. However, Richland County residents need to be particularly aware of their female friends and family members who are over the age of 65, of child-bearing age, or pregnant (Koons et al., 2018). These individuals are at an especially increased risk for negative effects of opioid abuse.
If you or a loved one is need of opioid information, resources, or help with addiction, call 211 to guide you to the most appropriate resource. Richland County has a number of prevention, treatment, and supportive resources stemming from spiritual organizations, mental health services, social services, and law enforcement entities. These local resources, including Richland Public Health, are dedicated to eradicating the opioid crisis from our area. Help us take one step closer to ending opioid abuse today.