CT Clearinghouse

Opioids and Adolescent Girls

According to the 2019 NSDUH study, 567,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported misuse of pain relievers in the previous year.  More than half (312,000) 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.

Wheeler staff created a gender specific module “Adolescent Girls and Opioids for Adolescent SBIRT Trainees” and added it to the A-SBIRT curriculum, to ensure all training participants were prepared to provide A-SBIRT to Adolescent Girls. The module was based on SAMHSA’s "Addressing the Needs of Women and Girls: Developing Core Competencies for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service Professionals" and The Office on Women’s Health Final Report: "Opioid Use, Misuse, and Abuse in Women". All Adolescent SBIRT trainers completed the gender specific module to ensure their understanding of opioid use and misuse among adolescent girls. 

Wheeler staff also created this S2BI response card, which includes the common names of drugs/substances that match the drugs/substances on the S2BI screening tool. 

Research & Statistics

  • An Analysis of the Impact of Opioid Overprescribing in America

    This report is the culmination of research to identify and
    better understand the populations most at risk from exposure
    to prescription opioids as federal and state agencies increase
    their attention and resources to combatting the opioid
    crisis. This research provides a greater understanding of
    those vulnerable populations and will help to better educate
    patients and prescribers about opioid risks.

  • Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Young Adults

    The transition from adolescence to adulthood can pose many challenges to young adults and their families. During transition age, young adults are called upon to make new and sometimes complex decisions about school, work, finances, and relationships with friends and family. This stage of life presents significantly greater challenges for the more than 3 million young adults (ages 18-25) with serious mental health conditions.

  • Drug Overdose Deaths Among Women Aged 30–64 Years — United States, 1999–2017

    The drug epidemic in the United States continues to evolve. The drug overdose death rate has rapidly increased among women, although within this demographic group, the increase in overdose death risk is not uniform. From 1999 to 2010, the largest percentage changes in the rates of overall drug overdose deaths were among women in the age groups 45–54 years and 55–64 years; however, this finding does not take into account trends in specific drugs or consider changes in age group distributions in drug-specific overdose death rates.

  • Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction

    Medications, including buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®), methadone, and extended release naltrexone (Vivitrol®), are effective for the treatment of opioid use disorders.

  • Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon Generals Spotlight on Opioids

    The Spotlight on Opioids assembles opioid-related information from the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health into one document to better inform the general public, especially family and friends of people with an elevated risk of opioid overdose, opioid misuse, and/or opioid use disorder.

  • Opioids and Women: From Prescription to Addiction

    Women are more likely than men to experience chronic pain and use prescription opioid pain medications for longer periods and in higher doses. Women make up 65 percent of total opioid prescriptions and 40 percent more women than men become persistent opioid users following surgery

  • Overdose Risk in Young Children of Women Prescribed Opioids

     Over the past 20 years, the prescribing of opioids has increased dramatically in North America, with parallel increases in opioid addiction, overdose, and associated deaths. We examined whether young children of women prescribed opioids were at increased risk of opioid overdose.

  • Prenatal opioid exposure heightens sympathetic arousal and facial expressions of pain/distress in term neonates at 24–48?hours post birth

    The rising issue of opioid use during pregnancy poses an increased risk of fetal exposure to opioids in-utero and the development of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The cessation of exposure to opioids upon birth causes elevated levels of norepinephrine in the circulation enhancing sympathetic arousal. Skin conductance (SC) detects sympathetic-mediated sweating while the Neonatal Facial Coding System (NFCS) depicts facial expressions of stress and pain. We hypothesize that there will be a direct correlation between SC and NFCS scores, such that neonates with prenatal opioid exposure will have higher SC and facial responses to pain/stress as compared with healthy neonates without prenatal opioid exposure.

  • Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

    About 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose in the US, more than 6,600 deaths in 2010. Prescription painkiller overdoses are an under-recognized and growing problem for women.

  • The Ripple Effect: The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children and Families

    Despite a significant volume of news and research on the tragic toll of opioids, one aspect has gone relatively unnoticed: the impact on children and families.

    A United Hospital Fund project is working to change that by shining a light on the epidemic’s long-lasting and destructive “ripple effects” on children and adolescents whose parents are addicted and on kinship caregivers who often end up caring for these young people.

  • White Paper: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women

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.