OWH Report on Opioid Misuse Among Women

OWH Report on Opioid Misuse Among Women

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
HHS

Women Talking
Opioid overdoses and deaths are increasing nationwide and are particularly higher among women, according to Final Report: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women, a July 2017 report based upon a 2016 HHS white paper and findings and recommendations from subsequent regional and national meetings.

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The report examines prevention, treatment, and recovery issues for women who misuse opioids and have opioid use disorders (OUDs). The report cites data on the rate of deaths from prescription opioid overdoses, which increased 471 percent among women from 1999 to 2015, far higher than the 218 percent increase among men. 

HHS initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic began in 2015 and have since been elevated to the top HHS priority. HRSA initiatives to expand opioid treatment have included new funding to Health Centers to expand substance abuse services and to expand use of naloxone by nonmedical personnel in rural areas. New funding under SAMHSA is underway. 

The report presents six themes for further investigation, including:

  1. Research on the unique needs of women.
  2. Improved provider tools (e.g. screening tools) and education to better understand and treat opioid misuse.
  3. More gender-responsive support (e.g, to address gender discrimination, impact on family dynamics).
  4. Expanded access to naloxone.
  5. Recognition and thus treatment of opioid dependence as a lifelong chronic disorder. 
  6. Financing of treatment and prevention.