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Study: For women, opioid dealers are usually close friends or family

Women who abuse drugs aren't getting them from dealers.

Most women who abuse opioids – like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin – get the drugs from friends or relatives.

That's according to a new study by the University of Minnesota that investigates how different groups of people obtain and use the medications.

The U's report is based on data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health between 2005 and 2014.

Here's a breakdown of the findings:

1.4 million

That's how many women between 18 and 44 reported using opioids within the last 30 days. That's 2.3 percent of non-pregnant women, but the U says it still has "profound public health implications."

Among pregnant women, 0.8 percent – or 50,000 women – reported using the drugs.

75 percent

According to the university's data, three out of four non-pregnant women get their opioids from friends or relatives.

More than half of pregnant women who use the drugs said the same.

Drugs from doctors

A lot of drugs people are using for non-medical purposes are coming straight from doctors, the research says.

Almost half of pregnant women get the opioids from doctors, while 28 percent of women who aren't pregnant get the medications from a physician.

"This clearly identifies an area for intervention,” Professor Katy Kozhimannil said.

What about dealers?

Drug dealers aren't very popular with women who use opioids.

Only 11 percent of non-pregnant women who use opioids for non-medical reasons reported getting any drugs from a dealer.

Solutions

Based on these findings, the U has come up with a multi-faceted approach to limit access to opioids.

Researchers suggest better educating people and clinics on how women obtain and use the drugs. They also suggest doctors monitor prescribed drugs and make sure unused medications are disposed of correctly. There are also suggestions for how to treat addiction.

Opioids in MN

Law enforcement and lawmakers have been working to address what's being called Minnesota's opioid epidemic – from coming up with new bills to increasing access to Narcan (a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose).

Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows there were 572 drug overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2015 – that was up 11 percent from 2014, when there were 516. More than half of the deaths were due to prescription medications rather than street drugs.

If you're struggling with addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a website that shows residential, outpatient and hospital inpatient treatment program locations.

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