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.


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.

  • 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 Adolescents
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.