opioid addiction

There is no age discrimination when it comes to addiction. Older adults who are prescribed pain medication are just as susceptible to addiction as younger, recreational users.

For years, doctors have been prescribing opioid drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet for chronic pain. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), approximately 30 percent of adults over 65 are prescribed some type of medicine for chronic pain. This may also include Benzodiazepines, commonly known as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Librium, prescribed for anxiety, depression, sleeplessness , alcohol, withdrawal, and other conditions. Despite the intended purpose, these drugs can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Our nation is in the midst of a deadly drug epidemic, and it’s hitting older adults particularly hard. Here are some questions you might ask yourself or your friends and family:
1. Are you taking your medications within the prescribing guidelines?
2. Are you taking your prescribed medication when you don’t need them?
3. Are you requesting early refills or reporting lost or stolen medication?
4. Are you doctor shopping to attain prescriptions?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you should consider talking to your doctor. You may be at risk for dependence or heading towards addiction to prescribed medications.

There is help. You do not need to experience pain, depression, and/or anxiety alone. Many types of counseling or therapy are available here in Westchester. And, there are alternatives to medication. Talk this over with your family, friends, and professionals. Be aware and ask for guidance.

Barbara Stern

Barbara Stern, MS/MPS/CASAC is a credentialed substance abuse counselor specializing in addiction concerns for older adults.She can be reached at Lexington Center, Mt. Kisco office: 914-666-6740 ext 1917; www.lexingtonctr.org

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