Prescription Drug Abuse among the Elderly

Media accounts often portray prescription drug abusers as youthful offenders and working-age adults down on their luck. Such characterizations ignore the real threat that elderly populations face. When confronting prescription drug abuse Boca Raton and other Florida communities fortunately have a rehabilitation facility the understands the importance of individualized treatment programs for our older family members, loved ones, and friends. At RECO Intensive, we are here to help those that you care about find a brighter future.

Seniors usually receive prescriptions for three types of drugs. Opioids manage pain. Benzodiazepines treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Stimulants create euphoric feelings and help those who need a “pick-up.” Abuse of any of these drug types may lead to addiction and other life-threatening factors.  For example, excessive use of stimulants by the elderly may dramatically increase cardiovascular risk.

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Drug abuse patterns among the elderly do not fit into a simple pattern. This age group tends to have more prescriptions that need to be monitored, and often the combination of medications—if not taken in the proper sequence or correct dosage—may prove problematic or lethal. Beyond these innocent acts where a missed pill or too many pills might make someone ill, metabolic factors such as changes in weight may affect how medicines interact with the body.

Elderly family members may become less attentive when they take their medications due to declining vision, hearing loss, and changes in cognitive abilities. Anxiety and depression, along with alcohol use, are other complicating factors.

Others willfully misuse controlled substances. They may take their medications in excess or when not needed, or even start to use another person’s medication as they seek relief from pain, insomnia, or anxiety.  Detection is difficult because some symptoms of the abuse—such as being confused or forgetting something–might be incorrectly thought of as the person just getting “old.”

This is not a new phenomenon. A 1998 study commissioned by U.S. Health and Human Services referred to substance abuse by the elderly as “an invisible epidemic.” In August 2017, AARP’s Public Policy Institute focused on this issue and found that misuse of painkillers, sedatives, and tranquilizers remains a serious issue, one that requires a nuanced treatment model that focuses on the challenges and needs of each individual.

RECO Intensive treats the prescription drug abuse Boca Raton and other places now have to confront among their senior populations. Our professionals are familiar with the telltale signs of addiction that others might mistake as just signs of forgetfulness or physical changes. Please contact us so we can talk about the next steps you should consider. We have also included some frequently asked questions about our admissions process for your information.

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