Lexington Women Overdosing On Painkillers Younger Than National Average

Reported by: Amanda Stevenson
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Updated: 7/22/2013 7:37 pm
The Centers for Disease Control say the number of women overdosing from prescription painkillers is skyrocketing. In Lexington, the average is a little less...but so is the age.

The CDC said the number of women overdosing on painkillers is up 400 percent from 1999 to 2010.

In 2010, 40 percent of all overdose deaths in the U.S. were women--most were middle-aged, taking prescription painkillers.

In Lexington, the Fayette County coroner said nearly 24 percent of all female overdose deaths, from 2010 to now, were between the ages of 34 and 40.

At The Hope Center, they treat women...but say that average age is even younger.

"Just a recent study (by the University of Kentucky Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies) of what we found from January 2013 up until this present time...the average age is 30," said Stephanie Gudger, Assistant Director, CDAC at The Hope Center's women's recovery program.
  
In 2012, the UK study said the average age was 34.

It's an unsurprising fact for State Attorney General Jack Conway, who said one in five of Kentucky's high school students are using painkillers for a non-label purpose.

"We're losing more than a thousand people per year just to prescription pill overdoses," said Conway, "That doesn't account for the fact that when you have an unnatural death and they do a toxicology, oftentimes prescription pills are found in the system."

Gudger said most women she sees come through recovery are addicted because of other issues, like abuse or mental health.

"Substance abuse is a part of it...but it's not the whole picture," she said.

But, according to Conway, availability is the real issue--he said a few years back, doctors gave out 219 million doses of hydrocodone alone.

"We're a state of 4.3 million people. That's about 51 doses of hydrocodone for every man woman and child in this state."

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