When people think about drug addicts, they likely conjure up thoughts of young adults or teenagers out on the street, hanging around the "wrong" crowd and taking part in illegal activities. But this is not necessarily an accurate picture of a drug addict.
In fact, people who suffer from substance use disorder come from all walks of life. They can certainly be the teenager on the street, but they could also be the mom on the student council, the leader of a youth group, or even the next-door-neighbor. Truthfully, drug addicts come in many forms, including the elderly.
In fact, seniors are becoming one of the fastest growing demographics to fall victim to drugs, primarily opioids. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), opioid abuse dropped in younger people between 2002 and 2014 but nearly doubled among those over the age of 50.
People aged 65 years and older might only make up about 13 percent of the national population, but they account for nearly 30 percent of all medications prescribed.
This particular group is now one to watch for opioid abuse. The situation is especially dangerous because of the myriad of opioids that are prescribed to older Americans to help alleviate pain associated with several medical issues that tend to worsen with age.
In fact, one in three people who have a Medicare prescription medication plan was given an opioid prescription in 2016. Unfortunately, even legally prescribed medications can quickly lead to addiction, which is being seen more and more among the elderly in the US. In fact, there are approximately 2.5 million older adults with a substance abuse problem.
Why Are Seniors Getting Hooked on Opioids?
Older adults are at a higher risk of prescription drug misuse because of conditions they suffer from that induce pain, lack of sleep, and anxiety. Along with a rise in such conditions also comes a rise in the need to medicate. With this increase in prescriptions comes a much higher risk of addiction.
Aging adults may have mental or emotional reasons for needing medication. In addition to failing physical health, many seniors suffer emotional distress due to the loss of friends, the death of a spouse, and adults children growing up and leaving the home, among other things. The challenges that come with aging are very real and are often too much for some people to deal with without some sort of help in the form of medication. Situations like these may entice seniors to turn to drugs or alcohol.
One study discovered that nearly 11 percent of women over the age of 60 abuse prescription medications like opioid painkillers, and almost 19 percent of the elderly in the US add alcohol into the mix, creating a dangerous cocktail.
Many older adults are even 'doctor shopping' to obtain the meds to which they have become hooked. These so-called 'doctor shoppers' have as many as four resources supplying them with opioids.
With such a growing number of addictions occurring within the elderly demographic, Ohio substance abuse treatment becomes incredibly important.
Where Can Elderly Opioid Addicts Go For Help?
Even though opioids are readily available, so are Ohio drug rehab facilities to help addicts fight substance use disorders. There are several different alcohol and drug treatment resources for the elderly to help them get over their addictions. Treatment programs for this age group typically involve communicating with them in a respectful way while emphasizing clear messages that consider the cognitive changes that aging people tend to go through.
Ohio drug rehab facilities can help the elderly learn skills to steer clear of drugs and alcohol while addressing the underlying causes of the problem and leading them toward a solution. Contact us today if someone you know needs help beating an addiction to opioids or any other type of drug.