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Prescription Painkiller Overdoses infographic

If you take mental health drugs and prescription painkillers, discuss the combination with your health care provider.

Potential risks of combining medications

Medicines for treatment of pain and mental illness have benefits and risks. For women, 7 in 10 prescription drug deaths include painkillers. But other prescription drugs play a role in overdoses as well. Women are more likely than men to die of overdoses on medicines for mental health conditions, like antidepressants. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety or sleep drugs) send more women than men to emergency departments. Mental health drugs can be especially dangerous when mixed with prescription painkillers and/or alcohol. If you take mental health drugs and prescription painkillers, discuss the combination with your health care provider.



Prescription painkiller overdose deaths are a growing problem among women.

Prescription painkiller overdose deaths are a growing problem among women.

SOURCE: National Vital Statistics System, 1999-2010 (deaths include suicides)

Drug overdose deaths among women, by select drug class, United States, 2004-2010. Data from National Vital Statistics System.

 opioidsbenzodiazepinesantidepressantsheroincocaine
Year     
19991287420926306850
20001534480984279843
200119696141009313957
2002276176313183591143
2003317388513843581322
20043758107915493411405
20054188120915753891620
20065058147218193441860
20075630189419583991665
20085733204620475511322
20096213228121335771141
20106631257922045841132

SOURCE: National Vital Statistics System, 1999-2010 (deaths include suicides)



Every 3 minutes, a woman goes to the emergency department for prescription painkiller misuse or abuse.

Every 3 minutes, a woman goes to the emergency department for prescription painkiller misuse or abuse.

Women between the ages of 25 and 54 are most likely to go to the emergency department because of prescription painkiller misuse or abuse.

In 2010:

  • Women younger than 18 years old, had 5,351 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 18-24 years old had 30,719 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 25-34 years old had 47,246 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 35-44 years old had 41,558 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 45-54 years old had 43,860 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 55-64 years old had 19,761 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons
  • Women 65 years and older had 14,922 emergency department visits per 100,000 persons

The data come from the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

 
  • Page last reviewed: July 2, 2013
  • Page last updated: July 2, 2013
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