Growing older is part and parcel of living beings, yet it can be a difficult reality for many. People who used to be surrounded by their family members or busy at work suddenly find themselves lonely and jobless. As elderly people become more prone to diseases, they can suffer from both physical and psychological problems. As a matter of fact, many people turn to alcohol and drugs to overcome various symptoms of physical and mental disorders that they are susceptible to.
With alcohol and medicines, comes the risk of abuse, overdose, and then addiction. The medication that was started to calm various symptoms gradually becomes an integral part of their living that might trigger abuse over time. Therefore, older people are equally vulnerable to risks posed by alcohol and prescription drugs.
As the United States observes the National Senior Citizens Day this August 21 acknowledging and celebrating the achievements and contributions of older people, communities and families can leverage this opportunity to spread awareness concerning drug dependence and help the vulnerable group prevent an addiction. Lending support to our senior citizens in any form can go a long way in ensuring better quality of life in the country.
With multiple illnesses, they become dependent on various medications
Prescription drug abuse is a common problem in older adults. People who have the tendency to take multiple medications from different physicians are likely to fall prey to prescription drug addiction. With multiple illnesses, they become dependent on various medications and usually end up using them more than they require and for longer duration.
Angela Conway of the South Miami Hospital’s Addiction Treatment Center once told the Miami Herald, “There are physical, psychological and social factors that make elderly people more vulnerable to addiction.” She also said older adults become dependent on medications taken for joint pain, injuries, or sleeping problems. Losing family members or near ones, or state of being away from family can also play a role in increasing their chances of getting dependent on prescription drugs, she added.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately three in 10 people aged between 57 and 85 years use a minimum of five prescriptions. About 17 million prescriptions for tranquilizers in the U.S. are prescribed for elderly people every year, with benzodiazepine being the most abused medication of all tranquilizers.
Prescription drug abuse continues to rise
Addiction to prescription drugs among older adults is one of the fastest growing public health concerns in the U.S. It is surprising to see how people aged 65 years and older account for nearly 30 percent of medications prescribed despite the fact that the age group comprises just 13 percent of the U.S. population.
Lack of awareness, understanding, and support can be some of the reasons for the current and increasing prescription drug abuse problem in the country. The vulnerable group is unaware of the potential risks caused by prescription medications when used for longer than advised or their dependence on them. The communities around, or at times families also seem least bothered about the problems faced by elderly people in terms of drug dependence.
Leveraging an opportunity to prevent prescription drug addiction
If a loved one is fighting a prescription drug addiction, do not delay in seeking professional help. While clinicians are in a better position to control the increasing drug addiction in their elderly patients, you as a family must also be vigilant about a possible addiction.
In the case of an already existing addiction, get in touch with the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information on various drug rehab centers in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online for an immediate response.