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Sharp Rise in Drug Overdoses Among U.S. Women: CDC

More now die from prescription medications than from car crashes, study finds

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Research has found that women are more likely to suffer chronic pain, use prescription painkillers at higher doses and use them for longer periods of time than men, according to the CDC.

In addition, women may become dependent on these drugs faster than men and may engage in "doctor shopping" -- getting prescriptions from several doctors, the agency said.

CDC experts said women can take steps to make sure they don't become part of these statistics. These steps include using prescriptions only as directed by a doctor, discussing medication use carefully with the physician, and throwing out medications as soon as treatment is finished and not keeping them around "just in case."

People who feel they need help for any substance abuse issue can reach out to 1-800-662-HELP or call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) with questions about medicines.

Individuals can also prevent drug misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing their prescription drugs and never taking someone else's prescription painkillers, the agency said.

Doctors play a key role, too, and need to adhere to guidelines when prescribing narcotic painkillers. They should also use state drug monitoring programs to identify people misusing these drugs, the CDC advised.

Doctors can also suggest other treatment options for patients that do not include prescription drugs, the CDC said.

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