Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse in Elderly

What are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse in Elderly People?

With the opioid epidemic claiming the lives of roughly 115 Americans each day, being aware of opioid abuse in yourself or a loved in is extremely important. The people who find themselves addicted to the substance are not your typical drug addict’s either; anyone can become hooked to opioid pain relievers. Among the groups that are especially susceptible to opioid addiction are the elderly because of the high amounts of opioids that are prescribed to them.  Signs of prescription drug abuse in elderly people and what you can do about an addiction will be discussed in this article.

Defining Substance Abuse

Prescription drug abuse in the elderly usually starts from an innocent place. Due to the addictive properties found in opioids, as well as the fact that some people are more prone to addiction, even following a physician’s instructions can still lead to an addiction.  Changes in the body take place when this happens that causes the person to begin to become reliant on the medication.

Once this happens, the person will feel compelled to take more opioids even if they don’t need to according to their prescription. Any use of opioids that doesn’t follow your physician’s instructions constitutes abuse. Any recreationally-taken opioids are also considered abuse.  Abuse of a physically addictive drug inevitably leads to a full-blown addiction.

Senior Citizen Prescription Drug Addiction Risks

One of the key reasons why prescription drug abuse in the elderly is so common is because the elderly age group is prescribed more opioids than any other age group. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that among the elderly, 3 in 10 people (aged 57-85) have at least five concurrent prescriptions.

Additionally, as we grow older, our bodies’ ability to filter chemicals in medications becomes lowered. This has an effect on senior citizen prescription drug addiction risk because they can have a greater effect of the drug with a lowered dose.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse in Elderly People

The signs of prescription drug abuse in elderly people are important to know so that you can be aware of a possible problem starting or present in yourself or in someone you care about.

The warning signs of prescription drug abuse in elderly folks are as follows:

  • They become more forgetful and confused.
  • Agitation and withdrawing emotionally from others.
  • Getting multiple physicians to get more prescriptions.
  • Had the same prescription filled at multiple pharmacies.
  • The same amount of the medication isn’t enough anymore because of tolerance.
  • Use of the medication in higher amounts than what was prescribed.
  • Frequently talk about opioid medication.
  • Become defensive about taking the medications and making excuses as to why they need it.
  • Going somewhere without taking medication causes fear or apprehension.
  • Have extra pills stored in places such as their pockets or purse.
  • The hiding of opioid medication.
  • They have a history of substance abuse.

Overcoming Abuse and Addiction

Once signs of abuse are apparent, then substance use disorder treatment is your best bet. Today, it is possible to treat an addiction to opioids in several ways. Among the best ways to treat opioid addiction in the elderly is through medications aimed at reducing symptoms of withdrawal and lowering the chance of relapse together with behavioral therapy. Combined, this way of treating addiction can help any person to make their way to a drug-free life again.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.