PA Study Finds Middle-Aged White Women Suffer Opiate Overdose More Than Other Groups
Authors Note: For the purpose of this article, the terms “opiate” and “opioid” are used interchangeably.
A recent study performed by Geisinger reveals that more white, middle-aged women suffer from an opiate overdose in PA more than any other group. The study was based on a full 10 years (2005-2015) of health records. The finds were presented at the International Conference on Opioids in Boston earlier in June.
The study was designed to help health care providers identify patients who may be at an increased risk of overdose. The study was funded by Inidivior, Inc., the company which manufactures suboxone (drug therapy for addiction).
According to the result, the average overdose patient was 52 years old, unemployed, and also suffered from a chronic illness. Around 35% of overdose patients also had at least one co-occurring mental disorder, such as depression.
Conversely, those with more general life stability were less likely to overdose. Factors such as having private insurance, a primary care physician, and being employed appeared preventative of adverse outcomes.
Of 1.2 million patient records, less than 1% overdosed. However, nearly 10% of overdose patients died within one year of admission.
Dr. Joseph A. Boscarino, addiction researcher and epidemiologist:
“This was one of the first times I specifically looked at overdoses in the Geisinger system. The researchers now are working on more in-depth, national studies that dig deeper into why so many more people are getting trapped by addiction.”
According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, between 1997-2007, sales of opioid medications increased by 40%. Also, Americans consume 80% of the world’s supply of opioids. Currently, the Society is encouraging physicians to find alternative pain treatments for their patients.
However, the Geisinger study found that only 9% of hospitalized opiate overdose patients were given a prescription for naloxone. Naloxone is the anti-overdose drug which effectively reverses the effects of an opioid/opiate overdose in progress.
“The patients who OD’d have a classic addiction profile in terms of their mental health. The fact that they’re OD’ing and not getting naloxone, we were surprised by that. … We’ve got to work on that.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology