Prescription Drug Abuse and Seniors
Senior prescription drug abuse is a growing issue in the U.S. There are older adults that have had a drug problem which continued into the 65+ age group or individuals who developed a problematic relationship with medicine later on in life. Nevertheless, here’s what we know about prescription drug abuse, how to spot it, and what to do to get help.
What classifies as prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is the repetitive and willful use of a medication in a way that was not intended by the prescribing doctor. This includes using somebody else’s medication, using unorthodox methods to consume substances, taking more than is advised by a doctor, mixing with other substances, and more. The most commonly misused prescription drugs are opioids, benzodiazepines, or stimulants.
Causes of addiction in the elderly
Around 17% of elderly people in the U.S. have a drug problem. Unfortunately, like alcoholism, senior substance abuse can occur due to depression and isolation. However, most older people misuse prescription medication by accident, since they often have to take so many. Aging also slows down the body’s ability to filter medicines. Regardless, abuse or addiction should be treated right away.
Substance abuse warning signs
Here are some signs and situations to look out for if you suspect your elderly parent or grandparent has a drug problem:
- Requesting early refills
- Claiming their medications have been lost or stolen
- Appearing disoriented or impaired
- Poor hygiene
- Poor balance
- Mood swings or major personality changes
- Shopping around for new or additional doctors and/or pharmacies
What to do when your loved one has a drug problem
If you suspect that an older adult is abusing substances, immediately contact their doctor with your concerns. Have them contact the senior or their caregiver to make an appointment, so the doctor can evaluate the problem and determine treatment.
Treatment for prescription drug abuse is different for everyone. Depending on the substance abused, degree of addiction, and other factors, counselling, medication, group therapy, or other methods may be recommended. It is best to speak to an M.D. to find out more.