Unfortunately, that age group is facing a shocking growth in opioid overdose deaths, with the CDC reporting that the overdose deaths among this group has risen 260% from 1999 to 2017.  Women aged 55-64 years old were at the highest risk, with drug overdose deaths among this age group increasing by almost 500% in the same period.2 Societal changes, dangerous drugs, prescription changes, and hormonal shifts may all contribute to this scary addiction statistic.
There is a greater connection for middle aged women and addiction, which is due to several factors. Women’s changing roles are adding increasing pressures and mental health issues, which are paving the path for addiction.  Often, doctors assume that women in the 55-64 age range are not as at risk when it comes to addiction, which can lead to over-prescribing of dangerous drugs such as addictive opioids. That, combined with the dangerous ingredients in many of these drugs, can spell disaster in terms of overdoses and related deaths.
Hormonal changes associated with menopause may also increase the rates of addiction among women, especially older women. As women age, progesterone levels decrease, specifically during menopause. This hormone has been found to essentially “protect” women from developing addictions to nicotine in recent studies, so a reduction in this hormone can leave women susceptible to addiction and substance use disorders.  Further studies may shed light on the connection between shifting hormone levels in women and rates of addiction.
At Banyan Treatment Center Hyde Park, we are working to help women of all ages find their sobriety. We offer a variety of programs to help women overcome addiction and alcoholism.