Most Americans, by now, are acutely familiar with the addiction epidemic disrupting millions of lives. While heroin and fentanyl remain the focus of many news stories, prescription narcotics are still a significant issue. It has become more difficult to acquire such drugs from doctors, but they are still misused at alarming rates.
It is right to say that overdose and addiction headlines almost always focus on younger generations. However, older Americans are not immune from either, and without treatment, the outcomes are the same. It doesn’t matter where a person procures their substances; when misused, such people face clear and present dangers.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that people over 50 are being especially affected by substance use disorder. Older Americans who think that addiction is a young person’s problem should reconsider their position. Whenever an individual’s life quality is severely impacted by substance use – young or old – action is required.
Prescription Drug Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 18 to 25-year-olds are misusing prescription narcotics at the highest rates. However, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that opioid-related emergency room visits were up 74 percent from 2010 to 2015 and opioid-related inpatient stays were up 34 percent among people 65 and older, according to U.S. News & World Report. The article rightly points that opioids are not the only danger affecting older Americans.
JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that shows one-third of older adults prescribed benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications), uses them long-term. Like opioids, benzos such as Xanax and Valium are highly addictive. Moreover, when anti-anxiety meds are used in conjunction with opioids, the two types of drugs make for a potentially deadly cocktail.
It is vital that older Americans – who take prescription narcotics long-term – reach out for support if they have concerns about having a use disorder. The stigma of addiction can be paralyzing; it often leads people to suffer in silence. Help exists, including treatment programs and support groups that cater to older adults. If accessing age-specific treatment is not possible, it’s critical that older people understand that evidence-based addiction treatment programs are useful for all ages.
“While substance abuse in older adults often goes unrecognized and therefore untreated, research indicates that currently available addiction treatment programs can be as effective for them as for younger adults,” according to NIDA.
Age-Specific Addiction Treatment at HVRC
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we offer programs that are tailored to specific demographics. Those include, but are not limited to, age-specific addiction treatment. We understand that alcohol and substance use disorder are non-discriminating conditions. Moreover, our experience has taught us that the young and old people have unique concerns. As such, older adults respond better –at times – when they are working together exclusively with their peers.
Addiction treatment can be beneficial for everyone; but, there is ample evidence that certain individuals can benefit more from gender or age-specific programming. At HVRC, we have witnessed this first hand. If you are over 50 and are struggling with prescription drugs, please contact us to learn more about our older adult addiction treatment program.