Not only do adults have to worry about their teenage children turning to drug abuse, they now have to watch out for addiction in their parents.  Statistics show that prescription opioid abuse in the elderly is at unprecedented proportions, enough to cause urgent concern.

The Facts On Elderly Abuse

An estimated twenty percent of the population aged sixty-five and older take painkillers several times a week.  Out of those, an alarming eighteen percent become addicted and begin abusing their medication (i.e., using them for purposes other than those prescribed by a doctor).  This includes taking a higher dose than prescribed, taking it more frequently, or taking a friend’s medication without a medical reason.

Opioid-related deaths among the elderly continue to increase, with oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone and methadone most frequently the cause.

How Elderly Abuse Begins

One reason the elderly are on such a slew of medication is because of the number of chronic conditions that come with age.  Heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory problems, diabetes, injury, and frequent colds and flu caused by lowered immune systems can all cause severe pain.  Prescription opioids like Oxycontin, Percocet or Vicodin provide much-needed relief.

Not only are prescription opioids extremely addictive, older bodies have slower metabolisms and therefore are more susceptible to dependency.  When the elderly become addicted, they may begin doctor shopping for more prescriptions, falsify prescriptions, or take medication from friends or family.

Medicine cabinets are filled with old prescriptions that haven’t been disposed of properly.  A person may be prescribed thirty Percocet pills after dental surgery but only use three or four.  The rest of them go back in the medicine cabinet, making it a gold mine for an addict.

Researchers theorize that the baby boomer generation is more prone to drug addiction because of their history.  Growing up in a pro-drug age, surrounded by alcohol, marijuana, LSD and other experimental drugs, many of them learned to cope with the troubles of life by drowning them out with drugs.  As times get hard again, with loved ones dying and the number of changes that come with age, they may be turning once again to substance abuse to give them the impression of happiness.

Knowing The Signs Of Drug Addiction

The signs of drug addiction are very similar to symptoms that accompany old age, so discretion is necessary.  Your parents or older loved ones may be addicted to opioids if they display some of the following symptoms:

•    Decreased activity, no longer participating in activities they used to enjoy due to having their attention on drugs.

•    Unusual pleas for help with pain.

•    Demanding potent painkillers with the first doctor visit or when it seems unwarranted.

•    Seeming to be “elsewhere”, no longer being as interested in family or other activities.

•    Decreased hygiene, generally appearing unkempt.

•    Increased body odor.

•    Signs of sickness if they stop taking their medication.  These are withdrawal signs and include fever, chills, cough, runny nose, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, agitation and depression.

If you notice these signs in an elderly person do what you can to get them help. Narconon drug rehabilitation offers solutions for anyone with a drug problem.

Source:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/776128

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