Biggest jump in drug overdoses was among middle-aged women

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By Maggie Fox

The epidemic of drug overdose deaths is worsening at a startling rate among middle-aged women, federal health experts reported Thursday.

Drug overdose deaths have soared among women over 30 starting in 1999 — with the biggest increase among women aged 45 to 64, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Deaths from drug overdoses increased by 260 percent among women aged 30 to 64 between 1999 and 2017.

And the rate of drug overdose deaths from opioids increased by an enormous 492 percent among women aged 30 to 64.

While men are far more likely than women to die of drug overdoses, the pattern shows that the dangers of painkiller overuse across the U.S. population.

The U.S. is battling an ever-worsening epidemic of deaths from opioid drugs. Last year, the government reported more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, a 10 percent increase in just one year. By far the biggest cause was opioid drugs, especially synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Statistics show that most of those who die from overdoses first used opioids with a legitimate prescription from a doctor. The CDC has been advising doctors to think twice before prescribing an opioid and advises patients to question their doctors before accepting a prescription.