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Article Summary

The Health Effects of Women's Drug Use

A National Vital Statistics Report found that 28,723 persons died of drug-induced causes in 2003. Of the drug-induced deaths, 10,297 were females. Drug-induced deaths include deaths from dependent and nondependent use of drugs (legal and illegal use) and poisoning from medically prescribed and other drugs. It excludes unintentional injuries, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to drug use. Also excluded are newborn deaths due to mother's drug use.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) collects data on drug-related visits to emergency departments (ED) nationwide. In 2005, there were 1,449,154 drug related ED episodes. The rates of ED visits involving cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were higher for males than females, but the rates for stimulants and non-medical use of pharmaceuticals did not differ by gender during 2005.

Number of Female ED Drug Mentions, 2005

Drug Type










MDMA (ecstasy)






All illicit drugs


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