Prescription Drug Abuse in Seniors
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise with Senior Citizens. This is believed to be because they take more prescription medicines than other age groups. 13% of the United States population is 65 years of age or older, however reports show that they consume approximately 33% of all prescription drugs.
By taking more than 1 prescription drug each day that individuals risk of developing an addiction is drastically increased, as well as the risk for mistakes when taking the medicines and for drug interactions. Seniors are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to a low dose prescription drug than a younger adult, this is because as the body ages the liver’s ability to filter medicines out of your body is slower.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is when the individual prescribed the drug does not take it as directed by the prescribing doctor, or when an individual intentionally misuse a medication that is not prescribed to them.
The medications which are commonly abused are categorized as “controlled substances” by the Drug Enforcement Administration. These controlled substances include; pain, anxiety, and sleep medications.
People who abuse prescription drugs may take more medicine than their doctors directed them to, take medicine when they do not need it, take a medication that is not prescribed to them, or mix the medicine with alcohol or other drugs. Prescription drug abuse can lead to serious problems, such as drug interactions, risk of overdose, and developing a dependency (best known as addiction).
How Do You Know if a Senior Adult is Abusing Prescription Drugs?
If you are concerned a loved one is abusing prescription drugs, pay attention to his or her medicines and behavior. The following are some signs that your loved one may be abusing prescription drugs:
- Going to two different doctors for the same prescription.
- Filling two of the same prescription medications at two different pharmacies.
- Increasing doses without a Doctors direction.
- Taking a medication more often than it is directed to be taken.
- Behavioral changes, seems distant and easily agitated.
- Thoughts and actions revolve around taking the medication.
- Become defensive if you talk about the medication.
- Making up excuses to why they need to take the medication more often.
- Keeping the medication with them at all times.
- Sneaking or hiding the medication.
- Have a past history with drug or alcohol abuse.
If your loved one is exhibiting signs of prescription drug abuse, you should contact the prescribing doctor immediately. Make your concerns clear to their doctors. He or she will then determine if your loved one is actually addicted to the prescription medication and in need to treatment.
Treating Prescription Drug Addiction
The treatment your loved one will need for a prescription drug addiction will be determined based upon the drug they are abusing, the severity of the addiction, possible withdrawal symptoms, as well as their personal needs. Typically treatment will require detoxification, therapy, counseling, and possibly medication assistance to aid with withdrawal. Your loved one Doctor will assist in determining the best course of treatment, Senior Rehabs will help to connect you with the best treatment program suited to their needs.