According to the United States Census Bureau there were more than 49 million people over the age of sixty-two living in the United States in 2010. The 2010 census also found that the older population was growing faster than the younger population. Senior citizens are the fastest growing section of the US population, and they account for approximately one third of all drug prescriptions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that prescription drug spending more than doubled between 1999 and 2008, meaning both prescription drug use and the elderly population have been increasing. Inevitably addiction to opiates has become a growing problem among senior citizens, but the problem is rarely addressed by the media.
According to the Treatment Episodes Data Set (TEDS) in 2005 10 percent of patients admitted into drug addiction treatment programs were over the age of 50. Among this ten percent the most common addiction problems were related to alcohol. Opiate addiction was the second most common problem in this age group. Opiate addiction is a dangerous disease that is plaguing senior citizens, but fortunately opiate addiction is treatable at any age.
How Senior Citizens Develop Opiate Addiction
It is not uncommon for senior citizens to struggle with chronic pain which may lead to a prescription for an opiate-based painkiller. Many senior citizens with multiple health problems require various specialists and take several medications from several doctors. In some situations primary care doctors may be unaware of all the medications that their senior patients are using. This type of situation is referred to as polypharmacy, and it places senior citizens at a higher risk of developing a drug abuse problem such as opiate addiction.
One in four older adults struggles with at least one significant mental health problem, and this number is predicted to increase. Common mental health issues among senior citizens include depression, anxiety or dementia. Some senior citizens who struggle with confusion or dementia may become addicted to opiates simply because they do not understand the dosage instructions of their medications. They may take the medicine as needed or in greater quantities than their doctor instructed which leads to tolerance and addiction.
Treatment Available for Senior Citizens with Opiate Addiction Problems
Common questions about senior citizens and opiate addiction include what kind of drug addiction treatments are available for the elderly population and if it is worth treating addiction at such an advanced age. Drug rehab programs in calm and quiet facilities with treatment regimes that are personalized for each patient are appropriate for senior citizens, and due to the negative effects of opiate addiction seeking opiate addiction recovery is always worthwhile. The effects of opiate addiction among the elderly include the following:
- Loss of interest in daily life
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
Every moment of a life is precious, no matter a person’s age. There is hope for senior citizens who are addicted to opiates, as it is never too late to seek recovery. With the help of an opiate addiction treatment program administered by caring professionals senior citizens can find recovery and start enjoying their lives to the fullest.
Help for Senior Citizens with Opiate Addiction
If you know and love a senior citizen who is struggling with opiate addiction, we can help. Please call our toll-free number today for more information about drug addiction and recovery options. We can connect you to the treatment tools that are right for you or your loved one.