According to a new CDC report, about 18 U.S. women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose, totaling more than 6,600 deaths in 2010. This is a stunning increase of 400% since 1999. Every 3 minutes, a woman goes to the emergency department for prescription painkiller misuse or abuse. The report explains that women are affected differently than men in that women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription painkillers in higher doses, and use them for longer periods of time. Women are also more likely than men to die of overdoses on medicines for mental health conditions, like antidepressants.
In Arizona, poisoning (including alcohol and prescription drugs) causes more deaths than car crashes. Committed folks across the state are taking action on this issue. ADHS is part of the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative, a multi-agency, multi-systemic approach to addressing the epidemic. As part of this initiative, new guidelines have been issued for prescribing controlled substances in Emergency Departments and dispensing of controlled substances by pharmacists. We are also one of four states that will be working with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials over the next year to receive technical assistance to bolster our efforts to prevent and reduce prescription drug misuse in Arizona.
If you or someone you know is using prescription painkillers, please make sure that they are being used only as directed by a healthcare provider, stored in a secure place, and disposed of properly. The CDC offers important tips on preventing misuse of prescription drugs. The Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative lists available drop box and take- back events for safe disposal of prescription drugs in Arizona.