Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose have increased more than 400% since 1999, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps no group is as vulnerable as older adults. Elderly people take more prescription medications than their younger counterparts, placing them at increased risk. Fortunately, there are effective options for senior addiction treatment that can help older individuals overcome prescription drug abuse.
The Rise of Senior Prescription Drug Use
People over the age of 65 represent only 13% of the population. However, they take approximately 33% of the prescription drugs given in the United States, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This leaves seniors vulnerable to becoming addicted to opiate painkillers.
Many factors collide to increase older adults’ risk of opiate dependence. First, doctors are much more likely to prescribe them multiple medications or give long-term prescriptions. This raises the likelihood that they will mix up pills or take them improperly. Elderly people who are not particularly medically savvy may not know to ask their doctors about long-term use of prescription opiates, which can be dangerous for people of any age.
Next, aging can be associated with cognitive changes that alter memory and complex reasoning. When faced with a pill box full of prescription medicines, it can be difficult to remember how frequently to take each one. As a result, some older adults become confused about their medicines and begin taking too many prescription opiates.
Finally, there is an increased risk of depression and loneliness in older individuals. Lacking a strong social support network causes some elderly people to use prescription drugs to cope with their pain. Soon, they may find themselves unable to control their use of medications. With the ubiquity of painkiller prescriptions among older adults, those on a fixed income may use others’ medications so they do not have to get more of their own. This misuse of prescription drugs often goes undetected by doctors.
Read more about senior opioid abuse, dependence and addiction.
Senior Addiction Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse
Older adults struggling with prescription opiate dependence have unique needs that must be met by medical facilities that provide resources for senior citizens to undergo safe detoxification. For most elderly individuals, self-help groups or traditional drug rehab facilities are not the best choice. These treatment options often use a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, which ignores the special needs of elderly people. This may include a variety of age-associated medical conditions, including but not limited to high blood pressure and cardiac problems. Even for seniors without these medical issues, their age warrants additional supervision and care.
One of the most important factors for seniors addicted to painkillers is health and safety. The withdrawal process can be challenging for people of any age. However, it can particularly strain the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of older individuals. Medical detox at the Waismann Method Center involves continuous monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, and fluids to ensure that each patient remains safe during the withdrawal process.
The Waismann Method of Addiction Treatment for Seniors
The Waismann Method Medical Group performs all medical detox procedures within an accredited, full service hospital. This allows elderly patients to receive premium detox care that accounts for their unique medical needs. In our hospital we have the availability of a number of specialists in gerontology and other areas, allowing our doctors to exchange opinions or receive special consultations as needed for each patient. For example, a cardiologist assesses each senior patient, ensuring that the individualized treatment protocol is appropriate for the person’s medical situation.
Finally, the Waismann Method Center values the privacy and confidentiality of each patient. There is a stigma associated with addiction to prescription drugs, even though it happens to people of every age and socioeconomic status. Older adults may feel particularly embarrassed or ashamed of their prescription drug addiction. At the Waismann Method Center, each patient receives a private, comfortable room during the opiate detox process. We find that this makes our patients more relaxed and better prepared to undergo treatment.
After completing a medical opiate detox at the Waismann Method Center, elderly clients are welcomed at our exclusive Domus Retreat for post-detox care. Here, each client receives a private room, cleaning services, and freshly prepared meals, permitting our seniors to focus on making a healthy recovery from prescription drug abuse.
Older Adults. Prescription Drug Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved on August 8, 2015.
Prescription Painkiller Overdoses. CDC Vital Signs. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on August 8, 2015.