Shocking spike in women dying from drug overdoses since 1999, CDC says

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Bags of heroin and fentanyl (DEA)

Women, particularly older ones, dying from drug overdoses in the United States is a growing problem. And a staggering spike in opioid-related deaths is largely driving this trend.

The number of women in the United States who die from drug overdoses has risen dramatically over the last two decades and they are dying, on average, at an older age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 1999 to 2017, the overall death rate among women aged 30 to 64 increased 260 percent, according to the study published in the CDC's latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. But the death rate shot up 1,643 percent for synthetic opioid overdoses, 915 percent for heroin, and 830 percent from benzodiazepines. (Benzodiazepines are generally prescribed to treat anxiety, panic, and insomnia.)

The CDC found that the average age of women dying from all overdoses increased nearly 3 years—from 43.5 in 1999 to 46.3 in 2017. The sharpest increases in the average age of women dying from overdoses were with antidepressants (just over 4 years), prescription opioids (4.5 years), and cocaine (close to 5 years).

The largest increase in prescription opioid-related deaths was among women 55 to 64, the CDC reported.

Overdose deaths involving antidepressants, cocaine, and prescription painkillers all increased in this time period.

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.