The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) offers a white paper titled, “Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women.” The HHS OWH white paper summarizes knowledge shared by experts and stakeholders in their September 2016 national meeting. In their data they found differences in the way men and women respond to opoids. Several women’s trends regarding opioid and heroin use cause concern:
- Between 1999 and 2010, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers increased more than 400% among women, compared to an increase of 237% among men.
- Although nonmedical use of prescription opioids among women has generally been decreasing since then, heroin use among women has been increasing, and increasing faster among women than among men.
- Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among women increased 100% compared to an increase of 50% among men.
OWH also found women are more likely to experience chronic pain, use opioids for longer periods of time, experience more cravings and become dependent in less time with smaller doses than men. The HHS OWL white paper explores promising practices for addressing opioid use disorder prevention and treatment for women. It also pinpoints areas worthy of further study. The report was developed as part of an initiative supported by OWH to examine prevention, treatment and recovery issues for women who misuse, have use disorders, and/or overdose on opioids. Read the entire white paper: “Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women.”