Opioid Misuse on the Rise Among Older Americans

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Misuse of opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, has risen among adults 50 and older, according to a new government report. Rates of opioid misuse have decreased among young adults. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found opioid misuse rose from 1 percent to 2 percent among older adults from 2002 to 2014, while rates decreased from 11.5 percent to 8 percent during the same period, HealthDay reports. Overall, 9.5 million adults misused opioids in the past year, SAMHSA found. “The high rates of [multiple] illnesses in older populations and the potential for drug interactions has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to misuse opioids,” Dr. Kimberly Johnson, Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said in a news release.
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More Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Opioid Painkillers

More Older Adults Becoming Addicted to Opioid Painkillers
A growing number of older adults are becoming addicted to opioid painkillers, The New York Times reports. They are using the pills to deal with the aches and pains of aging and the anxiety that can come with retirement. “They’ve built a fortress around themselves,” said Joseph Garbely, Medical Director of Caron Treatment Centers. “Their resources allow them to advance in their addiction without detection. So the addiction progresses.” He notes that signs of addiction such as confusion, shaky hands and mood swings are often thought to be symptoms of aging. It can be difficult to detox older adults from prescription drugs, Dr. Garbely said. “They have to be monitored and slowly withdrawn. Opioid withdrawal won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead.” After a lifetime of achievement, the loss of self-worth that may come with retirement may spark an addiction, said Brenda J. Iliff, Executive Director of Hazelden...
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People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse

People Who Become Addicted to Drugs Later in Life More Likely to Relapse
A new study finds people who become addicted to drugs later in life are more likely to relapse during treatment, compared with those whose addictions started earlier. For every year increase in the age of starting to abuse opioids, there is a 10 percent increase in relapse, according to Science Daily . The study of people being treated with methadone for their opioid use disorder found those who injected drugs were more than twice as likely to relapse by using opioids while on treatment, compared with those who did not inject drugs. Use of benzodiazepines also increased the risk of relapse, the study found. For every day of benzodiazepine use in the previous month, the researchers found a 7 percent increase in relapse. The older the patient is when in treatment, the less likely they are to relapse, the researchers report in Substance Abuse Research and Treatment . The study...
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Spotlight on Alcohol Use and Older Adults

Spotlight on Alcohol Use and Older Adults
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that adults of any age can have problems with alcohol. In general, older adults don't drink as much as younger people, but they can still have trouble with drinking. As people get older, their bodies change. They can develop health problems or chronic diseases. They may take more medications than they used to. All of these changes can make alcohol use a problem for older adults A recent article in the Palm Beach Post noted that older Americans are collectively becoming one of the nation’s biggest abuse problems, and this is according to several recent studies. This population is even outpacing binge-drinking college kids whose drinking habits have long been a documented concern. According to a 2014 study in the peer-reviewed specialty journal, Addiction , there are an estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse....
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Addiction to Prescription Painkillers Growing Among Seniors

Addiction to Prescription Painkillers Growing Among Seniors
A growing number of the elderly are becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, experts tell U.S. News & World Report . Caretakers and doctors often fail to spot the signs of addiction in older patients. “The problem is certainly ubiquitous, and often missed, to be honest,” said Dr. Joseph Garbely, Medical Director of Caron Treatment Centers. “Caretakers oftentimes miss the signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder. Doctors do too, and often aren’t asking the questions when seniors are there for their monthly checkups.” An elderly person who is addicted to painkillers may appear more anxious or depressed, Garbely said. They may injure themselves and appear confused or disoriented. A recent study presented at the Gerontological Society of America found a 78 percent increase in the number of emergency department visits among older adults who misused prescription or illicit drugs between 2006 and 2012. About 11 percent of the misuse...
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