Thursday, December 26, 2013

Advice for teens - build a life rather than live one

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Ashton Kutcher gives great advice
In August 2013, Ashton Kutcher got the “old man’s award” from the Teen Choice Awards. He talked passionately about working towards one’s goals. Watch his 5 minute speech.

When opportunity knocks
Ashton’s speech reminded me of the story of opportunity knocking.
A young man was looking for a way to make money. He didn’t want to just make money; he really wanted a way to make lots of money. He also wanted to feel good about himself as he made his dreams come true.A knock came at the door. The young man opened it to find an older man wearing dirty overalls and work gloves. “I am opportunity,” the older man said. “I came to help you get to your hopes and dreams.”“You don’t look like opportunity,” the young man said. “You’re dirty and look really tired.”“What should opportunity look like?” the man at the door asked.“I guess he would look cool. Like a multimillionaire: wearing a tux and driving a sports car.”“It seems to me that you are confusing opportunity with extravagance,” the man at the door said. “Opportunity doesn’t wear a tuxedo. Opportunity is a diamond in the rough. You have to work with opportunity and polish it into a diamond.”
As Ashton says: you have to build your life - starting with opportunity in the rough - in order to shape and live the life you dream of.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Vicodin, Xanax and the message

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Behind the humor, painkiller abuse is deadly
In the January 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, the following tidbit of information was exposed:

What I got from the sports-like shirts is: if you take this drug you don’t need to exercise to stay healthy or to be happy.

I am probably overreacting, but… I regularly work with patients that want some sort of pill to solve a medical or mental health problem. 

The fact is that putting on a comfortable shirt and exercising, often helps people physically and emotionally. 

A 15 minute walk does wonders for our mental health and our overall physical health. 

Vicodin, is also called Lortab or Norco
This combination medication is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It contains a narcotic pain reliever (hydrocodone) and a non-narcotic pain reliever (acetaminophen). Hydrocodone works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain. Acetaminophen can also reduce a fever. (WebMD)

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA). (WebMD)

Recent FDA changes concurring Vicodin
In October 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced changes in the way Vicodin may be prescribed by your doctor. The FDA statements starts:

Over the past several years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been carefully evaluating and weighing the appropriate use of opioid analgesic drug products. For the millions of American patients experiencing an acute medical need or living with chronic pain, opioids, when prescribed appropriately, can allow patients to manage their pain as well as significantly improve their quality of life.However, in recent years, the FDA has become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States. While the value of and access to these drugs has been a consistent source of public debate, the FDA has been challenged with determining how to balance the need to ensure continued access to those patients who rely on continuous pain relief while addressing the ongoing concerns about abuse and misuse. Read the complete statement

Let me know what you think about this issue. Please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review of Sodastream and the psychology of the taste test

The review of Sodastream
A few days ago I was kidnapped by my bride of 26 years and forced to spend 3 days in Ashland, Oregon celebrating our anniversary. Ashland is a beautiful village best known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The leaves were turning the flaming colors of autumn, and the temperatures were unseasonably warm.

As if this wasn’t enough, my wife, Geri, got me a Sodastream home soda maker. This innovative device allows you to make sodas of all flavors at home. You even get to pick the amount of carbonation you fancy. The company makes loads of flavor choices, or you can easily squeeze your own fruit juices into the effervescent water.

Geri and I had lots of fun trying different combinations of flavors and amounts of carbonation (the machine came with 12 sample packs each making 1 quart). We were not scientific about how we got to our taste conclusions, and that was OK because we were playing with a new soda making machine, not doing drug trials.

But, what if we truly wanted to test the taste preferences of soda drinking consumers? If so, we would need to do a “blind test”. 

A blind test
A blind test is when the test subject doesn’t know what brand they are tasting. If you were to test preferences on say, Coke or Pepsi, the test taster may already have a preference for one or the other before you invited them to participate. The fact that we have preferences before an experiment is called, bias. Part of setting up a taste test is to lower the amount of bias.

So, if we are going to test Coke versus Pepsi, we would place the drinks in unmarked glasses and ask the test subject to try both and tell us their opinion. This however lets lots of other forms of bias wiggle into our simple test. 

What if the first thing we taste or the last thing we taste influences how we judge the drinks in our experiment? In fact we know, from other experiments, that this does influence a subject's preferences, so we have to randomize which soda is tested first or last. 

At one point in our own home test, Geri tasted one sample and said, “It’s not bad, but it will be too sweet for you.” Wow, this is a clear example of research contamination. Her statement would most likely influence how I would judge that soda sample, even if I really tried not to be influenced by her words.

Another form of research contamination is when the person conducting the experiment is aware of the samples or the goal of the experiment. This is called experimental bias.

Double blind
To reduce bias in an experiment, it is best to have both the subject and the person conducting the trial "blinded", unaware, to the facts of the taste test. 

Even if the person conducting the trial honestly tries to keep her opinions to herself, bias will most-likely sneak in. She many not say anything, but just the way she hands the glass to the tester, the minute social subtleties, will give clues to the subject. We humans pick up on social cues even when we are not consciously aware of them. 

Blinding in research is important but very hard to do. For example, the color or temperature of the soda will influence the test subject. The psychological bias of what we expect from a soda will influence how we taste it.  Manufacturers know this so soda is colorized to elicit the correct feeling from the drinker, even though the coloring in the drink does not influence the taste of the drink. But it does influence your perceived taste of the drink.

Perceived value influences taste
Research has shown that wine tastes better in a expense glass versus a cheap glass. But the glass does not affect the taste of the wine. It is just that the drinker feels differently about the wine… and that feeling affects the taste of the wine. 

Ben Hayden, Ph.D - TEDTalk Rochester, NY

Ben Hayden, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, has conducted lots of tests on the psychology of consumer preference. He wrote in Psychology Today:

Wine is a multi-billion dollar industry part of the modern world. There are stores devoted just to selling wine, magazines devoted to it, wineries are a major tourist destination, and so on. And yet, weirdly, we know that much of this is a psychological artifact.

We are quite bad at tasting the differences between different wines. Even experts are easily fooled. You put a misleading label on a bottle of wine and the experts’ opinions can change dramatically. You can even warm up white wine and color it red (with food coloring) and many judges will think it is a red wine.

This is not just true for wine. Most people can’t taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi (even though most people think they can – I’ve done the experiments). 

All this being said
Geri and I are enjoying the Sodastream home soda maker. I like the diet cola and the diet ginger ale, while Geri seems to be enjoying an ongoing taste test. Isn’t life wonderful when you get to drink the soda flavor of your choice?

The moral of the story
When it comes to being human, it is often forgotten that we don’t know what we don’t know. We people types are influenced by psychological bias. Our job is to watch for our own psychological biases in our life. So hopefully, when we notice this bias, we can logically make better choices.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Does spelling really count?

Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Most decent readers can read the following poorly misspelled paragraphs 
(As you go along, you will quickly adapt and pick up speed. Isn’t that interesting?)

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid...
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. 

Amzanig huh?

Does this prove that spelling doesn’t count?
Not at all, what this does prove is that the human mind can see patterns very well and often adapts to these patterns easily.

It is important that we human types see pattens in our environment. It is the basis of our ability to comprehend and learn from our environment.

Enough fun for now, I need to get back to my work writing and hopefully spell everything correctly.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SB 1172 upheld, Ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld SB 1172. 
This legislation bans mental health providers from performing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (“SOCE”) to patients under the age of 18.

The court followed the scientific evidence, in my opinion

The study of human behavior, psychology, has often been controlled by public opinion when it comes to human sexuality. Unfortunately, fear of outrage from the religious sector has all too often held psychological research and treatment by the throat.  I have worked with a few therapists over the years that were sure that their bible trumped scientific knowledge. This is troubling. Therapists have the right to their faith and their opinions, but they do not have the right to reinterpret scientific evidence based on religious dogma. 

Today we are one small step closer to allowing science to help treat mental illness, avoiding the loud minority of practitioners who beleive that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts was appropriate

Read the court opinion: ‎

FYI: Chana Wilson, a psychotherapist, reported on the court hearing in the Huffington. read her posting.

October 2013 Newsletter cartoons

October 2013 Newsletter cartoons:

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D. ©

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Build-A-Bear Recalls Toy: Eyes Are Choking Hazard

FYI: Please share this information with your friends and family.  Thanks!

Sully stuffed toy has been recalled

This toy was sold at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and online at during June 2013 for about $23.

If your child has this toy, you should immediately take the recalled Sulley from him or her and return it to any Build-A-Bear Workshop store to receive a coupon for any stuffed animal from Build-A-Bear Workshop.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports

25,000 in the U.S. and 1,100 in Canada
Sulley is a furry blue creature from the Monsters movies. The Build-A-Bear stuffed monster is covered in blue furry fabric with purple spots, horn on its head and has blue eyes measuring about 1 inch in diameter. The stuffed monster is about 17 inches high and 10.5 inches wide.  Tracking label ending with 4384 or 4385 for USA and 4378 for Canada can be found on a sewn in label on the backside of the leg of the stuffed monster. 

None reported
Consumers should immediately take the recalled Sulley from children and return it to any Build-A-Bear Workshop store to receive a coupon for any stuffed animal from Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Sold at
Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and online at during June 2013 for about $23.
Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc., of St. Louis, Mo. 
Manufactured in

Consumer Contact:

Build-A-Bear toll-free at (866) 236-5683 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT and on Sunday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT. You may also email the firm at Visit the firm’s website and click on Product Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stomachaches in childhood often occur before anxiety disorders in adulthood

The journal Pediatrics reported a cross-sectional study linking childhood stomachaches to anxiety disorders in later life. A cross-sectional study looks at a medical condition in a population. This type of descriptive study is often used to show the prevalence of a disorder in a population and may lead to evaluations of the cause and effect of an illness. 

Functional abdominal pain (FAP)

It is common for pediatricians and family doctors to see children complaining of stomach pain. Often this pain has no specific medical cause such as bowl obstruction or food poisoning. It may often be associated with general “worries” such as school, homework, or friend problems.

What the research showed was that children with FAP, “carry long-term vulnerability to anxiety that begins in childhood and persists into late adolescence and early adulthood, even if abdominal pain resolves.” 

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

An anxiety disorder is a general classification of mental health disorders that is typified by anxiety and worry occurring most days for at least 6 months. The person finds it very hard to control their worrying. Because of their state of worry, they often have problems at home, work, or school.

Often the symptoms of anxiety are one or all of the following:

  • Restless feelings or feeling keyed up all the time
  • Months and months of being easily fatigued (without medical reason)
  • Difficulty concentrating or losing track of one’s thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep. This is often reported as “restless” sleep or “feeling tired all the time”

What should a parent be looking for?

It is often impossible to know why your child is having so many upset stomachs. It is best to start with your pediatrician or family doctor to rule out medical stomach problems. 

If your child is having any of the symptoms discussed above, tell your child’s doctor. There is effective treatment for anxiety issues. Your MD may refer you to a mental health professional. Often a little support from a counselor can go along way to help your child. Most therapists will start by teaching your child effective coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s stressors. This often shows quick and long term rewards. If the problem is moderate to severe, it is best to get help sooner than later. Unfortunately, children can miss out on lots of the important social and academic milestones of childhood because of an untreated anxiety issue.

Let me know what you think by using the comment area below. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What is a friend and how do you build a friendship?

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Friendship is a common concern for most people. Are we a good friend? Do our friends treat us correctly? Do we have enough or the right type of friends? Today I’m going to cover these issues, and hopefully demystify them for you.


By definition, the word friend means simply, someone you know and share a mutual affection with. It is that basic. You know them, and they know you. You like them, and they like you. 

However, even with this basic definition we run into a problem. It is the 'and'. You 'and' they have to agree to friend each other. You both have to know and like each other. But, we know that friends can get angry with each other…and still be friends, right? 

The Urban Dictionary adds to the definition by adding the modifier, “real”

A real friend is someone who: 

a) it's okay to fart in front of. 

b) you don't mind talking to on the bus for at least 20 minutes. 

c) can borrow $5 and never has to pay it back 

d) you'll actually call up to do stuff.

The Urban dictionary definition seems to shorten my list of friends.

How many friends should I have?

This is a very tricky question. Based on the first dictionary definition above, most people have lots of friends, people they know. But if you think of a friend as someone you can count on, and who can count on you, this number thing gets much more confusing.

I once read a research study that asked people to open their address books and rank how many people, listed in their address book, they had talked to in the last week. The number was low, very low. When asked to rank how many people in their address books they'd had no contact with in over a year, the number was high. In fact, the study found that most people had little contact with a handful of people in their address book. (Replace the word 'address book' with 'contact list', and the math will still be the same.)

I find that having a “real close friend” is a lot of work. You have to be there for them and they have to be there for you. Wow! Lots of responsibility is involved in being a “real close friend.” Thus, if at any time I have 1 or 2 close friends, I feel blessed. I know lots of people, but not lots of people I can comfortably pass gas in front of.

Why do we modify the word friend?

By adding words like “best” “real” “school” “work” or “church” we start to pass judgment on our friendships. We label them to categorize them so that we can get a handle on how valuable to us the relationship really is. 

A best friend is more important to us than a school friend, for example, but that doesn’t diminish our relationship with our school friend. It just helps us to understand our own feelings about our friends. 

Friend is a verb

A verb is an action word like run or catch. Friend is an action word also. You build a friendship by doing things with like minded people. By saying 'like minded', I’m not talking about thinking exactly alike, I’m referring to common interests. When these common interests are actions that you and your friend can do together or talk about, then you have the building blocks of a healthy friendship.

How do you build a friendship?

The simple answer is activity. Mark came into my office a few years ago. He was 26 years old and feeling really lonely. He felt like he lost all of his friends since he left the Army, which was pretty much the truth. Facebook and emails were not the same as being there. Mark had worked at a large Army hospital where he had lots of people he knew. He liked the sense of purpose that his work gave him and he enjoyed the social activities that working at such a vibrant hospital afforded him. (Note: all the activities he used to have with like minded people that stopped because of his move. He now had a lot less verbs in his life.)

Mark liked his new job, the reason he chose his new community, but his coworkers were all older and had families. They were nice, but they were very busy people. They didn’t have time to go out at night after work. His new hospital was much smaller and there weren't the pickup soccer games or the impromptu lunch and dinner invitations.

I talked with Mark about how friendship was built on activity and that by finding an activity he was interested in, he was more likely to find like minded people that he would have something in common with. He decided to go to the local college to see what it offered. 

Mark ended up taking a ceramics class, something he always wanted to try, but never had the time for. During the third week, he and a few classmates decided to go out for dinner after class. A few weeks later, one of the classmates introduced Mark to his sister. By the end of the pottery class Mark and his new girlfriend were planning to take an art class together. Mark also started playing Frisbee Golf with one of the guys from class. This helped him meet more like mined people that liked exercise, fellowship, and Frisbee Golf.

Tips for making friends

  • Reach out. Look for like minded people.
  • Join a group. School, church, political, sports… Join a group that is doing something you are interested in. Go with your interests so that you will have the energy to keep attending the activities.
  • Ask people questions. By learning about others, you increase the likelihood that the other person will ask you to participate in stuff that they are doing. My mom always encouraged me to “listen more, talk less.” It was great advice.
  • Smile. It makes sense that if you smile people are more likely to want to be around you. I’m not kidding here, if you are down or look sad, people will avoid you. Pick your feelings up by smiling.
  • Don’t be too quick to say no thank you. Don’t wait for the perfect invitation before you say yes. Often fear of new things can get in the way of making new friends. I encourage you to be a little uncomfortable so that you can grow as a person. Challenge yourself at least a little.
  • Volunteering to help a local charity is a wonderful way to meet nice people.

It is very easy to stay home and plug into the internet. Please be careful with this. Make sure that by plugging into the internet you aren’t really unplugging yourself from living your life in the real world.

Books by Dr. Copitch:

I'd love to hear your thoughts about friendship. Any helpful hints you can share are most welcome. Please leave a comment or a question.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Is our brain controlled by product brands?

Product branding is everywhere. As we go through our daily lives we couldn't get away from advertisements, even if we wanted to. Billboards, store signs, and logos on shirts, are all around us. Large companies like Coca-Cola or McDonald's spend millions to place their brand logos all aver the world. The companies know the truth about the old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind," so they work hard to stay clearly in your sight.

Scientists from Charité University Medicine and Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany have looked into how powerfully this branding influences the human brain.

Do brands control us? A new study says yes!

If you got together with a few friends to taste test your favorite cola, would you be able taste the difference between brands?

Researchers found that the taste testers they studied liked the cola labeled "coke" or "pepsi" better than the cola labeled with generic soda names. In addition, the subjects' brains were tested using fMRI scanning technology. The tasters brains indicated a preference for the brand colas over the generic ones.


Each of the taste testers got the same cola, a mixture of the 4 types. 

The visual cues influenced how the person perceived the taste, and even the pleasurability, in the brain's pleasure center, .

The researchers concluded, "The results show the strong effects of brand cues on self-reported pleasantness, as well as on neural responses signalling reward in the brain."

Is it fair for us to say that the branded companies are training our brains to like them best? It does seem that way.

Thanks for reading my blog, your comments are welcomed and encouraged. Thanks!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Online is real life with digital memory

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

I have talked a lot about the belief that online behavior is often considered to be anonymous, or simply doesn't matter in the real world.

Google is a verb, an action word

When you apply for a job, it is common for your name to be Googled. Those photos of you 4 years ago at the holiday party may not look so funny to your perspective employer. 

How about the stupid stuff we all say at some point during our day? When I was waiting in line today at the store, I overheard 2 young men talking about the party they were heading to. They were looking forward to meeting girls and hoping that there would be lots of beer available. The implication I noted was, if there is lots of beer, then sex is more likely. If a police office overheard their immature conversation, could he arrest them for conspiring to rape? 

After the words were said, they were lost in the ether. But were they really? What if the store had security cameras? Not wanting to present a conspiracy story let's move on to a real situation.

Justin Carter

Justin is now 19 years-old. He is stuck in jail for saying some very mean things on Facebook while playing a violent game. 

CNN reports his father saying:

"Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane. You're crazy. You're messed up in the head,'" Jack Carter told CNN affiliate KVUE in Austin. "To which he [Justin] replied 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head. I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still-beating hearts.'"
According to court documents, Justin wrote "I'm f---ed in the head alright. I think I'ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them."
Jack Carter said his son followed the claim with "LOL" and "J/K" -- indicating that the comment wasn't serious.

NPR reported:
In April (2013), a grand jury in Comal County, Texas, indicted Carter on a charge of making a terroristic threat, and a judge set bail at $500,000. The high bail has kept Carter imprisoned while his case moves through the court process.
"I have been practicing law for 10 years, I've represented murderers, terrorists, rapists. Anything you can think of. I have never seen a bond at $500,000," says Carter's attorney, Don Flanary.
The charge is a third-degree felony, which in Texas carries up to 10 years in prison. The Comal County District Attorney's office hasn't responded to our calls, but police in New Braunfels, Texas, who have investigated the case, say in a time of heightened sensitivity to school shootings, their interest is in preventing violence when they can.
"The whole situation is kind of unfortunate," said New Braunfels Police Lt. John Wells. "We definitely understand the situation that Mr. Carter is in, however he made the comments, and it is an offense. We have to ... protect the general public and specifically, in this case, with it involving schoolchildren, we have to act. We take those very seriously."

The lesson 

1. What is on the Internet survives forever. No joke. Your great-grand-children will know so much more about you than you know about your parents or grand-parents. They will know snapshots of your life, out of context, but available to be judged by them. 

2. Law enforcement branches are often bound by their own rules once a case starts down a legal path. I do wonder about a District Attorney that does not see that strict adherence to the letter of the law can lose the spirit of the law. I recall what Abraham Lincoln said, "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice".

Learn more about Justin Carter and his court case

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Huge increase in prescription painkiller overdoses

By Philip Copitch, Ph.D.

Just last week in my office I had a discussion with a young mom about her back pain medication. Her belief was, "...the pill doesn't work like it used to, so now I need two." We had a nice discussion about the dangers of prescription painkillers, and how our bodies deal with them. As it turned out, some days she is actually taking 3 pills at a time. 

Prescription doesn't mean safe

Often people are confused by the word prescription. They think it means the pill has been tested and authorized to be safe. This is partially correct, but prescription simply is a fancy medical word that means "order". The doctor is giving an order to the pharmacy for the patient to get a controlled substance. 

A prescribed medication is actually a balancing act of positive versus negative side effects. Your back hurts so the goal is that the correct dose of medication alleviates the pain. This is the positive side effect, the desired side effect. There are also negative side effects with every prescription drug. Some of the negative side effects may be small, such as mild constipation, others may be severe, such as potential liver damage or increased likelihood of heart disease.

This is where the balancing act comes in. Let's say you are taking a mild antidepressant. It may help by lifting your spirits a little, the positive; as well as making you a little thirsty throughout the day, the negative. Now the question for you, in consultation with your doctor is, does the benefit outweigh the negative? Are you getting more positive than negative? It is often difficult to balance all the positives with all the negatives. Unfortunately it is difficult to truly know all the positive and negative side effects of any medication we take. 

New statistics from the CDC

In early July 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released new statistics concerning prescription pain killers and overdoses. the numbers were alarming.

  • Nearly 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller* overdoses between 1999 and 2010.
  • Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses among women have increased more than 400% since 1999, compared to an increase of 265% among men.
  • For every woman who dies of a prescription painkiller overdose, 30 go to the emergency department for painkiller misuse or abuse.
*"Prescription painkillers" refers to opioid or narcotic pain relievers, including drugs such as Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone.

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.

Although men are still more likely to die of prescription painkiller overdoses (more than 10,000 deaths in 2010), the gap between men and women is closing. This rise relates closely to increased prescribing of these drugs during the past decade. Health care providers can help improve the way painkillers are prescribed, while making sure women have access to safe, effective pain treatment.

Prescription painkiller overdose deaths are a growing problem among women.
SOURCE: National Vital Statistics System, 1999-2010 (deaths include suicides)

Every 3 minutes a woman goes to an emergency department for a prescription painkiller misuse or abuse

The CDC chart shows huge changes:

Every 3 minutes, a woman goes to the emergency department for prescription painkiller misuse or abuse.

CDC advice to women

  • Discuss all medications they are taking (including over-the-counter) with their health care provider.
  • Use prescription drugs only as directed by a health care provider, and store them in a secure place.
  • Dispose of medications properly, as soon as the course of treatment is done. Do not keep prescription medications around "just in case." (See
  • Help prevent misuse and abuse by not selling or sharing prescription drugs. Never use another person's prescription drugs.
  • Discuss pregnancy plans with their health care provider before taking prescription painkillers.
  • Get help for substance abuse problems (1-800- 662-HELP); call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) for questions about medicines.