Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Prescription Drug Abuse

Is it possible that you or someone you love is addicted to prescription drugs? Most of us take prescription drugs only for the reason the doctor intended. But the National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 48 million people have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime. That figure represents approximately 20% of the U.S. population. In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to more ER visits because of accidental overdoses and more admissions to treatment programs for drug addictions. An area of concern is older adults who are part of an “invisible epidemic” of alcohol, prescription, and over-the-counter drug abuse. Over two million older adults in the US have a chemical dependency problem. Drug and alcohol misuse, abuse, and addiction is of great concern no matter what the age of the user. These problems are unfortunately, and quite dangerously, all too prevalent within the elderly population. The Administration on Aging (AoA) states non-medical use of prescription drugs is increasing among older adults. This is especially frightening, when you consider the fact that substance abuse can create or compound physical and mental health concerns that may already be present, or that they may have a likelihood of developing at some point in the future. Any time a person uses any drug in an amount, manner, or combination other than intended, the risk of harmful side effects and addiction climb, as does the risk of overdose-related conditions and death.Per Persons aged 65 years and older comprise about 13 percent of the population, yet account for more than one-third of total spending on prescription medications in the United States. Though 65 is not considered elderly by most, it is an age that is included in many of the studies and statistics. This is relevant because the habits and behaviors that may plague an elderly person may often began at an earlier age. Some data suggest that patterns of prescription drug abuse may differ by gender in older adults. For example, older women have been found to be at greater risk for prescription drug abuse than older men or younger women. Over the counter drugs (OTC) may pose a threat as well. In addition to causing discomforting or even dangerous side-effects, especially when they interact with other OTC or prescription medications, some of these may garner behaviors that become compulsive and follow distinct patterns of abuse. And, alcohol use presents a host of problems as well. Using OTC medications in conjunction with alcohol or prescription drugs can further complicate the side effects and dangers, as these substances may already cause these side effects on their own. Treatment of the older population may need to be specialized, as adults over the age of 65 are likely to have unique circumstances and specific needs that are different than those experienced by younger generations. As people age, their bodies’ functions begin to change. A person’s body begins to take longer to clear or break down the components of substances. The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) further elaborates on this, “Due to a reduction in blood flow to the liver and kidneys in the elderly, there can be a 50% decrease in the rate of metabolism of some medications.” Some individuals may also experience some measure of cognitive decline or dementia. Either of these things can make it difficult for a person to fully understand their drug use and behaviors, and in turn, the consequences. These factors may also impair a person’s memory in a manner that leads to unintentional misuse—increased frequency or amount of dosage, or taking things together that should not be used concurrently. Physical health issues put them more at risk as well – the older population consistently deals with more physical afflictions that require the aid of a medication (both prescription and over-the-counter), including increased joint paint, an increased risk of falls, and trouble sleeping. The medications that are commonly prescribed for these things are some of the most addictive. As a person ages, their support system often becomes smaller, whether it be from illness or death, or simply because their level of activity decreases. Due to this, individuals may not interact with people in a frequent enough manner for patterns and behaviors of drug misuse, abuse, and addiction to become apparent. Also, due to fear regarding health concerns or living arrangements (being afraid of being forced to leave their home), some may mask their condition. One thing that can make it difficult for a family member and even health providers, is that certain medications (even if used appropriately), certain health concerns or illnesses (such as cognitive decline), and even the natural progression of aging, may exhibit themselves in manner that mimics certain characteristics of abuse and addiction. If you’d like to learn more about prescription addiction, come listen to Tracy Hunt, Director of Chemical Dependency Treatment Program at Eastern Niagara Hospital to learn more about signs and symptoms, causes, and prevention of abusing prescription drugs in older adults. Tracy will be at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario St, Lockport on Tuesday, January 22nd at 10:00am. It is free to attend. The Dale Association is a unique non profit organization which has been responding to needs of adults in our Niagara community for 67 years. It has been said many times that our services help make lives better and we are proud to be able to do this for people with so many different needs. The Dale Association’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and coordinate connections for adults in Niagara and neighboring counties which enhance their health and wellness and empower them to build bridges into their communities. This important mission is the focal point of each program – including our Senior Services, Mental Health Services, Enrichment Activities, and Caregiver Support Services. Our Senior Services offer activities that enhance health, encourages community involvement, utilizes years of experience and allows for the development of friendships, as well as a sole local resource for the visually and hearing impaired. Memory Minders a social program for individuals with mild memory loss is also among The Dale Association’s community support services helping to improve the quality of life for adults. Our Mental Health Services have the clearly stated goal of assisting people to remain emotionally stable and living independently in the community. The Enrichment Activities are geared to developing and enhancing skills with the objective of adding to the quality of life. The goal of Caregiver Support Services is to help informal caregivers’ ability to manage and coordinate care. For more information about The Dale Association or its programs, please visit www.daleassociation.com or our blog at http://www.ExceptionalYouAtTheDale.blogspot.

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