Prescription Drug Abuse in Senior Citizens

By March 13, 2018Food for thought

Teens and young adults are commonly thought of when discussing drug abuse. However, prescription drug abuse in senior citizens is on the rise today. In fact, it’s unfortunately growing quite common. There are a lot of people over the age of 60 who are addicted to them today.

Factors Behind Prescription Drug Abuse in Senior Citizens

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted a study in 2016. They discovered that seniors account for more than one-third of the spending for prescriptions. This is surprising because they only make up 13% of the U.S. population. This is broken down in the following way:

  • Over 80% of adults between the ages of 57 – 85 use at least one prescription daily
  • Over 50% of this population takes over 5 medications daily

These are dangerous numbers. They increase the likelihood of prescription drug abuse in senior citizens. Of course, there are also other contributing factors, which include:

  • Seniors visit multiple doctors because of the many conditions that come with age. This increases the number of medications prescribed. It also makes it easier for them to get these medications.
  • There are a combination of physical, psychological and social factors. These include losing a partner and being isolated from family. They lead to depression, which causes addiction.
  • Some elderly have enough money to indulge in doctor-shopping or buying prescriptions in bulk.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to develop a tolerance towards a drug. This means they’ll need more of the drug to achieve the same results.

Diagnosing and Treating Prescription Drug Abuse in Senior Citizens

Oftentimes prescription drug abuse in senior citizens is misdiagnosed. There are some common reasons for this, including:

  • Insufficient information
  • Limited researcher
  • Inadequate screening

Unfortunately, many people also ignore the symptoms. Reasons for this include stigma and shame. This can cause other physical and mental health issues.

Many people wrongly believe that seniors are too old to help now. They feel it’s too late to bring about any meaningful change.

These assumptions are sad. They make people believe we shouldn’t invest in getting our elderly help. However, offering them this help isn’t a waste of resource or money.

Prescription drug abuse in senior citizens is daunting. However, help is available when there’s a problem. Contacting the right medical professionals can and will make a difference here. This is why special programs are available. These are the ones you’ll want to have help your senior.

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