AGING SERVICES: Opioid Epidemic: Abuse of RX drugs amongst older adults.

Opioid Epidemic: Abuse of RX drugs amongst older adults.

We all are aware of the dangers of prescription opioid misuse. We also know that older adults often are prescribed opioids for pain. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
  • The misuse of prescription drugs is increasing among adults over age 50; approximately 25% of older adults use prescription psychoactive medications that have a potential to be misused and abused.
  • Older adults are likely to experience more problems with relatively small amounts of medications because of increased medication sensitivity, and slower metabolism and elimination. Older adults are at higher risk for medication misuse than the general population because of their elevated rates of pain, sleep disorders/insomnia, and anxiety. They also may experience cognitive decline, which could lead to improper use of medications.
  • Combining alcohol and medications presents an additional health risk for older adults. As people age, their bodies work more slowly to clear medications and alcohol. Alcohol can cause adverse reactions to many prescription and over-the-counter medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and SAMHSA have developed a series of fact sheets entitled Rx Pain Medications. Know the Options. Get the Facts. These fact sheets are designed to increase awareness of the risks associated with prescription opioid use and misuse, as well as to educate patients who are prescribed opioids for pain about the risks and to provide resources on methods for alternative pain management. 

Content Last Modified on 3/2/2018 10:57:43 AM