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Why opiate addiction is on the rise among women

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Opiate addiction is on the rise among both men and women. While this may conjure up thoughts of women using cocaine and heroin, increasing numbers of American women are addicted to opiates that are more often found in their medicine cabinets than on the street.

Opiate Addiction in Women

Prescription painkillers
The opiates in those medicine cabinets are often prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Percocet. Prescribed liberally by physicians for legitimate medical reasons, prescription opiates contain a chemical makeup similar to heroin and are powerfully addictive. Because they are made in a laboratory and dispensed through a physician for real medical disorders, prescription opiates often appear to be safe. However, they are powerful and dangerous drug, and are the major cause of increased opiate addiction across the country.

Why women?
Women have always had a higher rate of addiction to prescription drugs than men. The stereotype of the 1960s housewife popping “Mommy’s little helper” uppers to help her get through a busy day has now given way to women (both at home and work) using opiates to cope with chronic pain or to mask difficult circumstances and problematic emotional issues. An estimated 2.7 million women in America struggle with opiate addiction. The actual number may be much higher, because many women hide their drug problems.

More pregnant women with opiate addiction
Opiate addiction is on a startling upswing in pregnant women. The rise in opiate-addicted babies is substantial: 13,500 babies per year (or one baby every hour) are now born with opiates in their blood stream, a threefold increase from the year 2000. Called neonatal abstinence syndrome, symptoms like withdrawal accompanied by seizures, respiratory distress, increased irritability, and feeding problems begin shortly after birth. These children start life requiring expensive, lengthy hospitalizations. Serious medical and behavioral disadvantages mark their lives.

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Switching pills for heroin
Because prescription drugs are expensive and doctors become suspicious of repeated refills, some women with opiate addiction turn to heroin to get high. They assume since the chemical makeup in the drugs are similar, heroin offers a similar fix for less money. However, because of the wide range of potency in heroin sold on the street, overdose is a distinct possibility. Further, heroin is often cut with substances such as laxatives, talcum powder, and other drugs such as methamphetamine. This can be a fatal switch.

Although opiate addiction is indeed on the rise among women, so is the number of treatment centers that address the particular concerns of women who need help. Some treatment centers offer women-only groups, and some facilities are even exclusive to women. If you are a woman addicted to prescription opiates, call for help today.

If you or a woman you love is having problems with opiate addiction or alcohol problems, a substance abuse treatment program for women may be the answer.  Remember that recovery from addiction and alcohol abuse treatment means learning how to cope with intensely emotional situations, and identifying when you need help and support.  Treatment for addiction relapse, counseling, and aftercare can help you do this, so please call us today.  Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service addiction and women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women who suffer from substance abuse and behavioral health issues.

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