Addiction to prescription medications is a growing problem, particularly among older adults. With the increased use of medications to treat complex medical and psychological conditions, older adults are more exposed to addictive substances and behaviors than ever before.
As the population ages, the risk of addiction to prescription medications is a serious concern that must be addressed. By understanding the risks, we can protect our elderly loved ones from the dangers of addiction and get them help when they need it.
Prevalence of Prescription Drug Addiction in Older Adults
Studies show that older adults are more likely to develop an addiction than their younger counterparts. Older adults also experience more adverse effects from medications than younger adults. In some cases, this risk is so high that the medications cannot be used at all. In other cases, older adults may require a lower dose of medication to minimize these effects. Since medication regimens are often complex and involve multiple prescriptions, the likelihood of adverse reactions only increases.
Older adults are more likely to experience complications from prescription medications and, therefore, more likely to develop an addiction. Furthermore, older adults are more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions that require treatment with prescription medications. In many cases, older adults receive a combination of medications to treat their various conditions. This results in higher medication burdens and a greater risk of adverse effects and addiction.
Risk Factors for Addiction in Older Adults
Older adults are more likely to experience adverse effects from medications, which may put them at a higher risk of addiction. While this may seem like an obvious risk factor, it is important to note older adults may not be aware of the risks associated with their medications. Older adults are more likely to be prescribed multiple medications. A higher number of medications being taken puts a person at a higher risk of developing an addiction.
Additionally, older adults may be more likely to take medications that have a high risk of addiction. Many medications used to manage pain may pose a higher risk of addiction than others, and older adults are more likely to experience co-occurring conditions that require these medications. This increases their risk of adverse effects and addiction.
Finally, older adults are more likely to have a history of substance abuse in their lifetime than younger adults. As a result, the potential for prescription drug abuse may slip past a doctor prescribing medication. A person with a history of substance abuse is at a higher risk of developing an addiction to prescription medications.
Types of Prescription Drugs Commonly Abused by Older Adults
While certain prescription medications pose a higher risk of addiction than others, all medications can potentially be abused. However, certain medications are more commonly misused in older adults than others, including:
- Anxiety medications
- Sleeping aids
Individuals abusing prescription medications may take higher doses of medications than prescribed, take the medication more often than prescribed, or use one medication to treat the symptoms of another. This can result in serious health complications and even death.
Older adults generally abuse painkillers, particularly those who struggle with chronic pain and may benefit from these medications. However, these medications can be highly addictive and may require aggressive intervention to treat.
Anxiety medications are commonly misused and abused by older adults, and these medications are widely available over the counter. While these medications may be effective in treating anxiety, they pose a high risk of misuse and abuse.
Sleeping aids are typically misused and abused by older adults and may also result in addiction. These medications are commonly prescribed for sleep disturbances but can pose a high risk of misuse and abuse.
Strategies for Reducing the Risk of Addiction
There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of addiction among older adults, which include:
- Understanding the risks associated with medications: Every medication has a risk of adverse effects, but some pose a higher risk of addiction than others. It is necessary to understand the risks associated with medications prescribed for conditions such as chronic pain or anxiety.
- Seeking medical care from a trusted source: While medical care may seem beneficial, it can also pose a risk of addiction. It is crucial to seek medical care from a trusted source.
- Discussing your medications with your doctor: It can be easy to overlook discussing your prescriptions with your doctor, particularly if you are taking multiple medications. It is vital to discuss your medications with your doctor and their potential for addiction.
To reduce the risk of prescription drug addiction, always understand the risks of taking prescription medications. Seek medical care from a trusted source, and remember to discuss your medications with a doctor.
However, if the risk of addiction becomes a reality, substance abuse is treatable. There are a number of treatment options available for managing substance abuse at West Coast Recovery Centers. The options range from clinical practices to group therapy. Getting help immediately can save your life or the life of someone you love.
Substance abuse can affect people from all walks of life. Regardless of age or experience, no one is safe from addiction’s powerful influence. People of higher age are at a greater risk for substance use disorder, especially when it comes to prescription medications. Medications are dangerous when they aren’t tracked properly or when they are prescribed carelessly by a medical physician. As a result, many people inadvertently develop a dependence on medications and begin to abuse them. If you or someone you know may be struggling with substance abuse, then finding treatment as soon as possible is essential. West Coast Recovery Centers can help. Call (760) 492-6509 today for more information.