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Opioid Addiction in Seniors

Oct 30, 2017 by Comfort Keepers Denver

If you keep up with the news, you’ve probably heard about the increasing opioid problem in this country. Younger kids have easier access to them, mothers are seen slumped over in their cars from overdosing, jail cells are filled with dealers and users – it’s becoming an epidemic.

And while you may think grandma and grandpa are safe from the harms of these drugs, you couldn’t be more wrong. Many seniors are prescribed these intense painkillers for chronic conditions, and yes, you’d be surprised how many take part in “street” drugs, too.

What’s worse, seniors are at an elevated risk when it comes to opioid addiction and treatment. Here’s what you should know:

Riskier Business

For starters, seniors have weaker bodies as it is. They are prone to falling, breaking bones, and a wide range of cognitive issues. If they are prescribed a painkiller for something, this only increases these risks.

What’s worse, many seniors tend to have multiple healthcare professionals prescribing them medications, and gaps in communication may lead to a dangerous medication cocktail. One doctor may prescribe an opioid, and another may prescribe a sedative for sleep. These combined can lead to fatal consequences.

Long-Term Treatment

Though the recommendations for opioid prescriptions now are for short-term use for acute pain only, such as post-surgery, many patients have been taking opioids for chronic conditions for decades. This leads to overreliance, which easily fades to addiction.

Sharing Drugs

It’s more common than you think. For example, say an older woman has hip pain, and her friend ran out of her pain medication. The first woman would gladly offer any old/extra medication to her friend in need of painkillers.

And while that’s an example of well-intentioned sharing, theft and abuse more often occur. Relatives and healthcare workers may steal opioids from senior patients who don’t store their medication properly or who need assistance with their medication. This leads to medications being in the wrong hands, and addiction.

Not Just Opioids

A lot of seniors addicted to opioids are also addicted to another substance, such as benzodiazepines (sleeping or anxiety drugs), alcohol, or marijuana.

This complicates opioid addiction and the treatment for it.

Shame Scares Them Away

It turns out that those seniors who do willingly receive treatment for their opioid addiction tend to fare very well. They listen to what they’re supposed to do and generally get back on with their normal lives.

However, being ashamed of their addiction prevents many seniors from entering rehabilitation. It may feel like a huge failure for them to seek help for this when they’ve lived their whole lives without having to.

If you are suffering from an addiction of any sort, you’re not alone in this. Call this substance abuse hotline at 1-888-509-2504 to get help.

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