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DIGGING DEEPER: More women are dying from drug overdoses than ever before

QUINCY (WGEM) — When you think of the face of the opioid crisis, do you think of your mom, your sister, your wife?

Tina Hall

According to the CDC, the epidemic of drug overdose deaths is worsening at a startling rate among middle-aged women.

“Overcoming heroin addiction, or any addiction is probably the hardest thing there is to do,” said recovering addict Tina Hall.

According to the CDC: the biggest jump in drug overdose deaths overall between 1999 and 2017 was in middle-aged women, something that Pastor Larry Hinds, Executive Director of Harvest

Larry Hinds

Outreach ministries in Hannibal, says rings true in the Tri-States.

“There’s definitely been an upward trend of women incarcerated, drug use and drug overdose deaths among women,” said Hinds.

For Hannibal resident Tina Hall, these statistics are personal. She was abusing prescription painkillers and then heroin during that time, starting as an 18-year-old and continuing well into her 30’s.

“I started making terrible choices and committing crimes or doing whatever I had to do to get the pills,” she said.

The statistics from the CDC include meth, cocaine, opiates, and heroin, showing deaths from use jumped 260 percent among middle-aged women.

“You see as many overdose deaths in a week, in our area, than what you used to see in a year,” said Hinds.

Tina didn’t lose her life to drugs, but she came close and addiction took her children from her.

“I got my son taken away, for leaving him unattended on a sidewalk, she said. “My daughter was 4-years-old the last time I saw her, she’ll be 17 in June”

Officials say middle-aged women overdosing on drugs is happening all around the Tri-States including at the Harvest House, jails and prisons and emergency rooms.

Dr. James Tucker

“People become addicted as soon as their first pill,” said Dr. James Tucker with Hannibal Regional Medical Group.

Tina started using drugs because of pressure from a then-boyfriend turned husband, but there are other factors driving middle-aged women to use.

“Single parenting, the stresses of society, the financial decline we’ve seen in our area..people are looking for an escape,” said Hinds.

Dr. Tucker says the problem can often start in the doctor’s office.

“The availability and prescription from providers offices as well as transaction on the street,” said Tucker.

Tina eventually found hope at the Harvest House in Hannibal, a ministry for people to get back on their feet while fighting addictions. She’s now been clean since 2017.

Opioids and Women: From Prescription to Addiction
CDC study: Drug Overdose Deaths Among Women Aged 30–64 Years
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Alexandra Carter

WGEM News Anchor

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