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Opioid Abuse Is On The Rise Among The Elderly, But Why?

7/10/18

Chicago methadone clinics

Opioid abuse has been on the decline among younger generations. But in recent years, the epidemic has doubled among Americans over the age of 50.

In fact, one in every three people with a Medicare prescription drug plan received an opioid prescription in 2016, putting aging baby boomers at a higher risk for addiction.

Why are elderly Americans at high risk for opioid addiction?

Four out of every five new heroin users begin by misusing prescription painkillers. Older Americans are more likely to receive prescription painkillers because of conditions like chronic pain, sleep disorders/insomnia, and anxiety.

These conditions, which increase with age, put older Americans at greater risk for different types of substance abuse. In fact, up to 19% of older Americans are estimated to suffer from alcohol and medication misuse.

The problem with diagnoses

Unfortunately, opioid addiction can be difficult to identify in older Americans. Behavioral symptoms of substance abuse often include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability/aggression
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced social interaction
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and activites
  • Personality changes

Yet these behavioral symptoms are also signs of chronic depression, anxiety, and dementia, which older Americans often suffer from. That said, medical professionals need to keep a close eye on older patients who have been medicated with opioid prescriptions.

It's possible these symptoms may be the result of depression or dementia. But that isn't always the case.

Are there treatments for opioid addiction available for the elderly?

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous for both the elderly and those who are pregnant. Fortunately, methadone treatment centers have been the most effective treatment option for opiate addiction for over 50 years.

Methadone treatments work by reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms and reducing the urge to use an addictive substance. Methadone does this by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are what change when you become addicted to opioids such as heroin.

Unlike abstinence-based, non-medical treatments for addiction, Chicago methadone clinics have a success rate up to 90%. And, because you don't need to fight against withdrawal symptoms on your journey to recovery, methadone is more gentle on the body.

Chicago methadone clinics can provide you with the treatment you need for your addiction no matter your age. To learn more about how methadone works and how you can seek treatment, contact Sundance Methadone Treatment Center today.


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