Over a 10-year period, from 1997-2008, prescription medications and illicit drug use increased by 96 percent for those aged 65 to 85 and by 87 percent for seniors over 85, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Seniors over 65 now constitute 13 percent of our population in the U.S. and one third of those using prescriptions. Oftentimes, seniors taking multiple prescriptions are seeing many different doctors, which puts them at risk of prescription drug abuse and possibly subjects them to overdose and dangerous drug interactions. According to a recent online post, some of these overdose deaths were by accident but others were not as innocent, says Russel Falck, an associate professor at Wright State and also CITAR’s associate director.
Falck says seniors have access to more prescription drugs and they might be using them in a way that is not in their best medical interest. According to the CDC, overdose deaths have skyrocketed in the past 10 years and are certainly a public health problem of epidemic proportion.
Ohio doctor, Orman Hall, said we are essentially treating chronic pain with a pharmacy-grade heroin and he believes this is an extremely dangerous practice. Hall goes on to say that most constituents in his state, let alone seniors, have no understanding of just how dangerous and addictive these prescription opiates are.
SAMHSA says that of seniors, close to 80 percent have a minimum of one health condition that is chronic, and half of them have a minimum of two health conditions that are chronic.