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Painkiller abuse among women on the rise

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: Jul 03 2013 04:47:56 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT

A new study from the CDC discovered about 18 women die every day of a prescription drug overdose.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

A new study from the CDC discovered about 18 women die every day of a prescription drug overdose.

It's a growing epidemic in the U.S. as deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses have increased by more than 400 percent. For every woman who dies of a prescription painkiller overdose, 30 go to the emergency room for painkiller abuse.

For Melody David, it started as a childhood addiction. "I started doing painkillers when I was 14," she told us.

David tells News 5 a bad home life and easy access to the painkillers is what got her started. "I was living with a friend of mine. She was doing methadone and Roxicet and I just started doing it," said David.

However, she didn't stop there; David says she tried Lortab, Oxycontin and Oxycodone. "You keep on doing them and doing them, until you have to have them," she explained.

We learned women between the ages of 25 and 54 are most likely to abuse the painkillers. Dr. Hughes Melton tells us that while men have been abusing longer, women are quickly catching up. "When we look at patients who come into the ER or some into treatment for substance abuse, the majority of them are women," said Hughes.

Dr.Hughes says he believes it's because women are willing to seek treatment for illnesses sooner. "They are willing to recognize they have a problem and they'll come in, whereas men live in denial longer," said Hughes.

But once they receive the medication to fix their pain, it can become addictive and some cross the point of needing it for pain to needing it for abuse. "And that transition is very hard to see a lot of time as a provider. The patient doesn't want you to know, so they go from seeing you to seeing you and one other [doctor]," said Dr. Hughes.

Melody David says prescription painkiller abuse can end your life. She also says if it doesn't kill you, it will ruin you. "Don't use it. If you use it you're going to mess  your life up," she said.

If you're currently struggling with prescription painkiller abuse, you can call the Crisis Center Hotline at 276-466-2312 or the National Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.