Opiod Misuse in Women

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) strategy to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States, the HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has awarded 16 cooperative agreements to public and private nonprofit entities across the nation. The programs supported by these awards will apply a gender-responsive approach to addressing primary and/or secondary prevention of prescription and non-prescription opioid misuse by women across the lifespan.

The United States has seen an alarming rise in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers and nonprescription opioids among women. A unique combination of biological, health, and social factors have led to the growing opioid epidemic among women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription pain killers increased 218 percent in men, while for women it increased over 471 percent. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among men increased 50 percent, compared to 100 percent in women. The approximate $1.6M in federal assistance will fund 16 projects in 12 states over a 3-year period.

In addition to the awards, OWH recently issued a report that examines the impact of the opioid epidemic on women and highlights promising practices that address their specific needs. (link for report is https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/final-report-opioid-508.pdf)