Opioid Addiction in Women

The opioid epidemic in the United States is worse than it’s ever been. Many people are dying from fatal overdoses each year, and families are torn apart by a person’s addiction. Opioid addiction is extremely cunning because it can often start with the abuse of pain medications, and it can then evolve into a heroin addiction. We live in a country where opioids are prescribed more than anywhere else in the world, and women are much more likely to be prescribed these medications than men. Women suffer from opioid addictions at an alarming rate, but there is hope to recover if you’re struggling.

Women and Opioid Prescriptions

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) conducts a lot of research in the field of addiction, and they also created the ASAM criteria. According to statistics provided by ASAM, 48,000 women in the United States passed away from fatal overdoses from prescription opioids between 1999 and 2010. During these years, prescription overdose deaths among women increased more than 400 percent while it only increased 237 percent among men. One of the reasons these numbers are so much higher than with men is because women are much more likely to suffer from chronic pain and therefore more likely to be prescribed opioid medications.

How a Prescription Pain Medication Addiction Progresses

A woman may be prescribed a medication like Vicodin or some form of hydrocodone to deal with chronic pain, and many times these medications are given as maintenance medications. It doesn’t take long for a woman’s body to become tolerant to these medications which will lead to a higher dosage in order to control the pain. The problem is that these narcotic medications release dopamine, so it’s difficult for the person to distinguish the difference between trying to get rid of the pain and simply trying to get the euphoric feeling from the opiates. Often times, a person who is becoming dependent to these types of medications will begin taking much more than what was prescribed, which can very easily lead to fatal overdosing.

Prescription pain killer addiction is often seen as a gateway towards using heroin. After a while, it becomes increasingly difficult for someone with a prescription drug addiction to obtain medications. They may experience symptoms of withdrawal when they run out, or buying the medications illegally can become quite expensive. Heroin is a cheaper, stronger opioid that people turn to when they can no longer afford or obtain prescription pain killers. Heroin has become much more dangerous in recent years as well because many suppliers cut the drug with even stronger opioids like Fentanyl, which is even more potent.

Recovering from an Opioid Addiction

Although being stuck in the cycle of using opioids can seem like an extremely hopeless situation, it is possible to recover. Thousands of women around the country have been able to overcome their addiction to opioids through a few different steps. The first step is to get through the detoxification process, which should be completed in a facility to ensure that withdrawal symptoms can be treated and reduce the likelihood of relapse. From here, it’s important to learn the causes and conditions of one’s opioid addiction whether it be pain, stress, depression, trauma or any other issues. Through treatment and support, you can regain control of your life.