When Women Become Addicted to Pain Medications

Since 1999, the number of deaths from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than quadrupled, and rates are increasing faster among women than among men. Women become addicted to pain medication for the same reasons men do, but there are several factors that explain why the problem is increasing more rapidly among women. Finding a women’s rehabilitation center is essential if you or a loved one is having issues, but understanding the nature of the problem is also vital to getting better and tackling the growing problem.
Prescription Drug Abuse Amongst Doctors

Why Do Women Get Addicted to Pain Medication?

Opioid painkillers have been increasingly prescribed for moderate to severe pain, with 76 million prescriptions written in 1991 but almost 207 million in 2013. While drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone) are effective at reducing pain, they share many similarities with the most well-known illicit opioid, heroin. In fact, they affect the body in largely the same way, and can be very addictive for the same reasons. People prescribed opioids for legitimate medical reasons can find themselves becoming addicted to the drugs, and may end up taking more than their doctor recommends, or even crushing the pills to snort or inject them in order to get a bigger high.

For various reasons, women have been increasingly affected by prescription painkiller addiction. Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, and they’re generally prescribed opioids more often, in higher doses and for longer periods of time. A women’s rehabilitation center is best equipped to address these unique challenges faced by women.

How Many Women Get Addicted to Prescription Painkillers?

The number of women becoming addicted to prescription painkillers in the U.S. has decreased in recent years, but still stands at problematic levels. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health asks questions about the non-medical use of prescription painkillers each year. In 2013, 1.7% of the U.S. population had used a prescription painkiller in the past month, compared to 1.4% in 2015.

In general, men are slightly more likely to abuse and get addicted to prescription medications than women, but the difference is small. A study from 2011 looking at the problem found that 0.58% of women were addicted to prescription painkillers, compared to 0.74% of men.

What You Can Do About It: Find a Women’s Rehabilitation Center

If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription painkillers, it’s important to find help as soon as possible. There are many options for finding a women’s rehabilitation center, but any center offering comprehensive psychological and physical support to those struggling with addiction gives you the best chance of getting clean, especially if it takes a holistic approach to treatment.


“Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures” – American Society of Addiction Medicine


“America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse” by Nora D. Volkow


“Prescription Opioid Overdose Data” – CDC


“Opioid Overdose: Understanding the Epidemic” – CDC


“Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use” – National Institute on Drug Abuse


“National Survey of Drug Use and Health” – National Institute on Drug Abuse


Posted on April 7th, 2017

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