CT Clearinghouse

Opioids and Adolescent Girls

According to the 2015 NSDUH study, 969,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported misuse of pain relievers in the previous year.  More than half (518,000) of those reporting misuse were female. Adolescent girls have unique risks factor for opioid and other substance use, and are more vulnerable to the physical impact of substance use and addiction. Even low levels of use can have serious health consequences for girls. 

Women and girls may become physically dependent on opioid pain medication more quickly than men and boys. The “telescoping” phenomenon supports the need for both screening and early intervention (such as adolescent SBIRT) among adolescent girls in order to delay the progression of opioid use and misuse.

The opioid epidemic's disproportionate impact on women is the latest, and most destructive, symptom of wider gender-based disparities that leave millions of American women in worse health than men.

Data show that deaths among women from opioid overdose have increased at a much faster rate than for men, 400% compared with 265%. And states where doctors write the most opioid prescriptions per 100 residents are also the states with the widest overall disparities between men's and women's health.