The rates of opioid overdose deaths among women ages 30 to 64 increased by 492 percent, from 2.6 deaths per 100,000 women in 1999 to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 women in 2017, according to the report.
The CDC found that the average age of women dying from all overdoses increased almost 3 years-from 43.5 in 1999 to 46.3 in 2017. By 2017, that rate had risen to 24.3 deaths per 100,000 women, meaning 18,110 women in the selected age group died from an overdose that year.
The study, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also looked at the types of drugs involved in the overdoses and found huge increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl), heroin, and benzodiazepines, a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety.
In that time, drug overdose deaths involving antidepressants, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, synthetic opioids and benzodiazepines such as such as Xanax and Valium all increased, the report said.
These troubling trends starkly illustrate the opioid crisis gripping the United States and also punctuate that it is far from a problem just affecting younger Americans.
News cited numbers from the Centers For Disease Control that said women between the ages of 30 and 64 are falling victim to addiction.
In 2017, overdose death rates were highest overall among women ages 50 to 54.
"Women's substance use tends to progress more rapidly from first-time use until addiction develops", Glatter said.
The CDC did not detail exactly what's causing women to become disproportionately affected but did note "overdose deaths continue to be unacceptably high, and targeted efforts are needed to reduce the number of deaths in this evolving epidemic". And insurance programs that serve older women, including Medicare, may need to sharpen their focus on older women's needs for more careful prescribing, more focused counseling, and better access to treatment for substance dependence than they have done in the past. The data came from the National Vital Statistics System, which is based on information from death certificates.
The rise in deaths also varied by age and drug categories in the data.
Some of the steepest increases in fatality rates have been seen in women who may not fit the public's expectations of drug abusers.
"People with untreated or undertreated depression or anxiety are at higher risk for substance abuse, with middle-aged women in this demographic at higher risk for opiate as well as benzodiazepine abuse", Glatter said. Addiction specialist Dr. Harshal Kirane had some theories. "Women who are victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk of substance abuse".
"Most crucially, only 1 in 10 Americans that could benefit from addiction treatment now access it", Kirane said.
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