RICHLAND COUNTY — Forty six percent of opioid overdose cases in Richland County since January of this year have been with women, county figures show.
County officials said the number of women impacted by opioids is dramatically increasing. In some geographical areas such as Ohio, the figures for women are higher than those for men.
In the United States, more than 115 Americans die daily after overdosing on opioids, according to the CDC.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018a, 2018b), the misuse of and addiction to opioids (including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl) are contributing to the national crisis affecting the public’s health.
Officials said that in neighboring Summit County, a report from March 9 through 15 of this year indicated that nearly six per cent of all Summit County residents who sought emergency treatment after overdosing during that week were women (Akron Beacon Journal, 2018).
While anyone here in Richland County can be affected by the recent opioid epidemic, recent research findings have identified specific differences in how women experience pain and over utilize opioid drugs.
According to a recently published peer-reviewed article by Koons et al. (2018), there are many differences between men and women when it comes to the diagnoses related to pain, pain perception, opioid disbursement, response to opioids, opioid use disorder, and psychosocial factors. Historically, women experience more pain-related diseases and have an increased sensitivity to the perception of pain. With a higher prevalence of painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, and joint inflammation, women are often times prescribed opioid treatments to help reduce uncomfortable symptoms.
Women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are susceptible to opioid abuse. However, Richland County residents need to be particularly aware of their female friends and family members who are over the age of 65, of child-bearing age, or pregnant (Koons et al., 2018). These individuals are at an especially increased risk for negative effects of opioid abuse. Anyone in needof opioid information, resources, or help with addiction is urged to call 211 for guidance for finding the appropriate resource.
Richland County has a number of prevention, treatment, and supportive resources stemming from spiritual organizations, mental health services, social services, and law enforcement entities. These local resources, including Richland Public Health, are dedicated to eradicating the opioid crisis from our area.