Opioids and Disability Among Women of Reproductive Age

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2022 Dec;31(12):1751-1762. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2022.0096. Epub 2022 Sep 20.


Background: Despite nearly one in five U.S. women of reproductive age reporting a disability, limited research exists on opioid behaviors in this vulnerable population. This study examined associations between disability and past-year prescription opioid use and misuse, and described types of opioids, sources, and motives for opioid misuse among nonpregnant women of reproductive age. In addition, the effects of social, medical, and behavioral determinants of health on opioid use and misuse were assessed in this population of women with disabilities. Materials and Methods: Data were used from the 2015-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (n = 93,679). Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used in the analyses. Results: Overall, 48.0% of women with a disability reported past-year prescription of any opioid use compared to 32.3% of women without disabilities, and 10.4% of women with disabilities reported opioid misuse relative to 4.2% of women without disabilities. Hydrocodone was the most used (29.3%) and misused (5.87%) opioid. Women with disabilities had higher adjusted odds of opioid use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.50-1.67) and misuse (AOR 2.01; 95% CI, 1.82-2.21) than those without disabilities. Tobacco, alcohol use, and poor to fair health were all associated with higher odds of opioid misuse. For their last opioid misuse, 5.2% attained the opioids from a dealer or stranger, and 22.1% used opioids to get high. Conclusion: Women with disabilities are at an amplified risk for prescription opioid use and misuse. Improved medical provider education, training and capacity, and reinforcing related community-based support programs for this population are imperative.

Keywords: determinants of health; disability; opioids; women with disabilities.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Prescription Drug Misuse*
  • Prescriptions


  • Analgesics, Opioid