The drug crisis in America weighs heavily on a group you do not expect: middle-aged women. New report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that drug overdose deaths among women aged 30 to 64 have skyrocketed in recent years.
According to reportfrom 1999 to 2017, the drug overdose mortality rate in this age group more than tripled. The rate increased 260% from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 population (4,314 overdose deaths) to 24.3 per 100,000 (18,110 deaths).
"Specific groups of Americans are extremely vulnerable to the catastrophic consequences of the opioid epidemic"Dr. Harshal D. Kirane, director of addiction services at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, told CBS News." Unfortunately, we continue to identify new groups to add to the list. "
Kirane, who did not participate in the CDC study, described the results as "very worrying", especially as middle-aged women generally encounter significant barriers to addiction treatment due to family and childcare responsibilities and financial disparities.
The study, published in the CDC's weekly report on morbidity and mortality, also examined the types of drugs involved in overdoses and found a dramatic increase in the number of synthetic opioid-related deaths (such as than fentanyl) heroinand benzodiazepines, a class of drugs primarily used to treat anxiety.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the report sounded the alarm not just for middle-aged women at a much higher risk of death by drug overdose but also the "meteoric rise of synthetic opioids, as well as heroin and benzodiazepines, explaining the increase in the death rate. "
"Although prescription opioids remain the main factor of the current opioid epidemic, it is important to recognize the sharp increase in fentanyl heroin for the growing number of deaths, driven by cheap, illicitly manufactured fentanyl from China and Southeast Asia in the United States, "he told CBS News, and Glatter did not participate in the CDC report.
This CDC report does not provide any information on drug overdose deaths among men of the same age group, but Kirane said: "Overall, men demonstrate a similar increase in the number of drug overdose deaths ".
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Glatter notes that, while men have a higher rate of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than women, the data also indicates that women are just as likely as men to develop a disorder. related to substances. And the reasons why women are particularly vulnerable to Overdose of drugs.
"The data indicates that women are at higher risk of drug thirst and relapse, which are important stages in the addiction cycle," said Glatter. "Sex hormones can also make women more sensitive to the effects of certain medications, opiates and benzodiazepines, for example, compared to men."
Women's use of psychoactive substances also tends to progress more rapidly between first use and the development of addiction, and withdrawal may be more intense for women, Glatter said.
Additional risk factors may also play a role.
"Affected or untreated people depression or anxiety are at greater risk of substance abuse, which places middle-aged women at a higher risk of opioids as well as benzodiazepines, "said Glatter." Women victims of domestic violence are also at greater risk of addiction ".
For this study, the researchers used a national database based on information from all death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The report concludes that the number of overdose deaths remains "unacceptable" and that more focused efforts are needed "to reduce the number of deaths in this evolving epidemic of middle-aged women".
Glatter and Kirane say it starts with increased access to drug treatment.
"Most importantly, only 1 in 10 Americans who can benefit from drug treatment currently have access to it," said Kirane. "We need to develop the entire infrastructure of substance abuse care in our country and address the global needs of women with opioid-related problems." Key elements of this infrastructure include access to medical treatment, overdose training and naloxone distribution. "