Disturbing Trend of Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Prescription Drugs
The number of older adults becoming addicted and dependent on prescription drugs is increasing exponentially. Hanley Center, a premier addiction recovery center in West Palm Beach, Florida, has implemented successful strategies to confront this growing form of addiction.
This alarming issue is often exacerbated by mixing these drugs with alcohol or other drugs. Powerful opoid painkillers such as OxyContin can potentially carry adverse effects that users may not be aware of. It is dangerous to mix drugs like opiods with central nervous system depressants like tranquilizers and alcohol-potentially lethal. As Hanley Center began to see more older adults facing prescription drug addictions, they began to enhance and added to their gender based treatment programs a supplementary program geared toward baby boomers and older adults.
By supplementing the gender-based addiction recovery treatments with a program to educate and treat older adults, some of the unique problems faced by the older patients can be best addressed for optimal treatment results.
Opiate painkillers and tranquilizers are drugs that are commonly used long-term, and it is possible for an older adult to be unaware that their painkillers do not mix with alcoholic beverages, and that the mix can be potentially fatal. Long term treatment for sleeplessness or chronic pain can lead to an addiction on the very medicine prescribed to help, creating an entirely new set of problems to face. Oftentimes older adults using prescription drugs do not realize they are in danger, as they feel safe because it was prescribed to them by their primary care physician, often over a long period of time.
Today, narcotic pain relievers like Oxycontin, Propofol, Vycodin, Darvon, and Demerol are close behind Marijuana as the Country’s most abused drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration (SAMHSA). Prescription drugs are now playing a leading role in drug abuse and addiction issues. An alarming figure is the 68 percent increase in fatal poisonings due to street and perscription drugs, between 1999 and 2004.
There are many factors associated with the rise in prescription medication addictions, including aggressive marketing techniques, self diagnosis, and an increasing acceptance of painkillers as the norm. When patients exhibit signs of addiction, such as losing prescriptions, routinely begging for an early refill, or even hopping from doctor to doctor in hopes of a refill it is important for physicians to know to treat the addiction, rather than simply stop seeing the patient. Chronic and persistent pain, depression and anxiety are commonly part of the intricate package of addiction that requires the proper treatment plan for a lasting recovery.
Naturally, people just want to feel better. When people are facing general age associated ailments, it is quite simple to justify the usage of prescription drugs, and it is equally as simple to blur the lines and accidently mix them with the wrong chemicals, causing further harm or death. As patients age, the same dosage of a drug may affect them differently, with side affects such as slowed mental functioning or excessive sedation, both of which could lead to accidents.