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A New Study Reveals That Women Prescribed Opiates May be at Greater Risk for Addiction Than Men

In many cases, opiate addiction develops after an individual is prescribed pain medication by their doctor. Whether the painkillers were prescribed after surgery or for severe back pain, many people slowly come to rely on the feeling they get when they are on the drug. This often leads to dependence, and consequently, addiction.

Different ways people abuse prescription opiates include:

  • Taking higher doses of the medication than prescribed
  • Taking the medication without a prescription
  • Taking or borrowing prescription drugs from a friend or family member in order to get high

One of the biggest problems contributing to the opiate addiction crisis is the over-prescription of painkiller medications from doctors across the country. Since opioid pain medication has such a high risk of abuse, medical professionals would benefit from understanding which kinds of patients are the most at risk for addiction. With accurate information, doctors and other healthcare professionals can take special precautions to lessen these patients’ risks of becoming dependent or addicted to opiates.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) looked at the first use of prescription opiates among patients who had never tried them before in an attempt to calculate the likelihood of each patient developing a long-term addiction. To calculate the chance of a patient becoming addicted, the study looked at a variety of factors, including how long the drugs were supplied and any increases in overall dosing of the medication over that time.

Older, Female Patients with Previous Pain Issues are at Greatest Risk for Using Opioids for More Than 1 Year

When looking at the groups with the highest potential for long-term addiction to prescription opiates, the study discovered that individuals who continued taking opioid painkillers for one year or more were more likely to be:

  • Older
  • Female
  • Have a pain diagnosis before they began taking opioids
  • Started out on a higher dose of opioids
  • Publicly or self-insured in comparison to patients who stopped taking opiates in less than a year’s time

This means that women should be particularly cautious when considering whether or not to take opiate medication for pain. This is especially true if their doctor wants to start them off on a high dose.

Information from the CDC suggests that nearly 500 women a day overdose on prescription opiates-m which is just another reason for women to be especially careful and responsible if they have been prescribed these drugs.

Study Shows Patients are at Higher Risk of Addiction After 5th, 31st Days of Therapy

The study also calculated the additional risk that was posed for each day a patient was prescribed opioids. The study showed that the likelihood of long-term opioid use increased with each day of medication supplied beginning on the 3rd day. After that, the biggest increases in long-term use were seen after the 5th and 31st days of therapy and after a patient’s second prescription (or first refill.)

Talking to Your Doctor about Monitoring Your Medication

This means that women, especially those who are older and have long-term pain (the other risk factors for addiction), should also be especially careful during and after these periods. Have your doctor monitor your medication use carefully so you can avoid addictive behaviors.

If you’re a woman and your doctor is considering prescribing you opiates for acute pain, you may want to discuss taking some of the following precautions to reduce the risk of dependence on the medications:

  • Starting at a lower dose than usual
  • Avoiding high-risk medications like Tramadol
  • No refills/automatic refills
  • Potentially looking for safer, non-opiate alternatives for pain relief

Getting Help if You are Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

At Restore Health and Wellness, we understand that men and women cope with addiction differently, and therefore, each requires different forms of treatment. We provide women’s addiction treatment programs that are specifically designed to empower women and teach them how to cope with triggers in healthier and more productive ways so they can maintain their sobriety.

Women face unique challenges throughout the recovery process. At Restore Center LA, we address the underlying causes of addiction and customize each treatment plan to fit the specific needs of the patient. Our treatment programs combine both traditional and alternative therapies to give every woman the best possible chance at lasting recovery. Visit our drug rehab center in Calabasas, CA at 6918 Owensmouth Ave Canoga Park, CA 91303. 24/7 Admissions (818) 722-9019. On-Site Contact (818) 806-3914.


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