A new report from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that drug overdose deaths among American women between 30 to 64 years old have skyrocketed in the past two decades.
Steep Increase In Middle-Aged Women Dying From Drug Overdose
The report showed the rate of drug overdose death in this age group rose by 260 percent over the course of 18 years.
In 1999, drug overdose was behind about seven of every 100,000 deaths among middle-aged women. The number, however, rose to 24 per 100,000 by 2017.
Karin Mack, from the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said the steepest increase was seen among women between 55 and 64 years old.
Women More Vulnerable To Drug Overdose
Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, offered some explanations why women are particularly vulnerable to drug overdose.
"Data indicates that women run a higher risk of drug craving and relapse, which are important stages in the addiction cycle," Glatter said.
He added that women's sex hormones make them more sensitive to the effects of some drugs such as opiates and benzodiazepines.
Glatter explained that substance use in women tend to progress more rapidly, and women often find withdrawal more intense.
Substance Abuse Among Middle-Aged Women
As to why middle-aged women appear to be hit the worst by the drug abuse crisis. addiction specialist Harshal Kirane, from Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, pointed at women's access to care.
"Middle-aged women are often prevented from accessing care due to family responsibilities, child care considerations and financial disparities," Kirane said.
Additional factors are also at play. Glatter said people with unaddressed depression or anxiety problems are at increased risk for substance abuse, placing middle-aged women in this demographic at higher risk for benzodiazepine and opiate addiction.
Women who are victims of domestic abuse are also at increased risk for substance abuse.