“Jennifer” had seen a number of doctors and been having a great deal of joint pain. She was often tired and very sore, but there were periods of time when she felt okay for a while. She had some dental work done and the dentist prescribed her a short supply of a well known pain reliever. She had a highly functional week and was able to attend more events with her children than she had felt up to for some time. A few months later, the pain returned in her joints and she was feeling very down. Her annual physical came, and she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The doctor gave her a prescription anti-depressant medication. It was somewhat effective. But at a family dinner, her sister-in-law suggested that since she had good luck after the dentist, she should try some of her leftover pain pills. “It’s mild. My doctor said so. Besides, I don’t need them anymore they were from my surgery years ago.” The pills made an impact on her pain again. They were helpful in mildly easing the pain symptoms, but each time she took them, she felt a need to take them a little sooner. Then it was an extra pill or two than she took the time before. In the bathroom at her son’s school, she saw an open purse on the counter. When the fellow mother was not looking, she stole a bottle of pills from the top her purse. Jennifer was never a thief!  She was now an addict losing control — visiting as many places as she could to find a source so she could feel the impact of the pills. Jennifer was no longer the amazing mom and wife that she once was. She was spiraling out of control. Her son noticed, her family noticed, everyone noticed but Jennifer. She noticed very little.

Getting control of your life starts with letting go of what has control over you.

While these situations are on the rise, it is important to understand that misuse and abuse is not simply limited to painkillers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a warning in July 2012 about women and the increased rates of prescription drug abuse.

Between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died from prescription drug overdoses — a 400% increase.
-Centers for Disease Control

While men still have higher rates of prescription drug abuse, women are quickly catching up. This is occurring for several reasons:

  • Women are more likely to have chronic pain and be prescribed prescription painkillers.
  • Women may become dependent on prescription painkillers more quickly than men.
  • Women are more likely than men to obtain prescriptions from multiple prescribers, or “doctor shop”

Pregnant women who misuse and abuse prescription medication not only endanger themselves, but the lives of their unborn babies. To learn more about pregnancy and prescription drug abuse, visit our Born Dependent page. To learn more about women and prescription drug abuse, visit the CDC’s Vital Signs.


There are many people in need of treatment. Is it time for you or a loved one to Get Help NOW? If so, our page of resources will help you make that step.

This startling statistic has caught national attention, as seen in this story by NBC Nightly News. Prescription pain reliever overdose increases 400 percent among women. 

“The Marion County Coroner’s office would like to remind everyone that improperly taking prescription medicines as prescribed by a doctor can lead to impaired behavior and can be dangerous and harmful. Additionally, taking more than prescribed, or taking medicines that do not belong to you can be fatal. Addiction, abuse and overdose are common results of incorrect use of prescription drugs”
Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew

Within Marion County, Indiana during 2012, 52% of Female deaths involved Prescriptions.

If you are in need of immediate attention or are having suicidal thoughts please call 9-1-1.