The opioid addiction crisis in this country has been described as an epidemic. It affects people of all ages. What’s important to understand about addiction is it has very little to do with poor decisions, bad behavior, or weakness of character. Many substances and behaviors become addictive, and pain pills often become that way precisely because they work.
Because pain pills work, it’s easy to form a dependency with long-term use. Dependency refers to needing more of a drug in order to produce the same effect. Needing more frequent or larger dosages to relieve the same level of pain could indicate a dependency.
Take it from John Evard, who became addicted despite following his physician’s instructions. In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, he said,
“I was a rule-follower, and I still ended up a mess!”
The good news is there’s help if you become a mess.
When Dependency Becomes Addiction
Addiction, whether to alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescribed medications, has a way of sneaking up on the user. One begins to experience side effects, both from the drug itself and from withdrawal. These side effects, combined with the very demanding symptom of pain, create an urgent need that cannot simply be dismissed or ignored.
Abuse and Overdosing In Aging Adults
Opioid drug abuse, whether intentional or unintentional, leads to hospitalizations. 42% of opioid overdose deaths in 2015 occurred among adults aged 45 or older. Experts estimate the number may be higher, since these deaths could be misattributed to falls or heart failure.
Preventing Opioid Problems
Pain pills are often the best treatment for post-surgical pain or acute injury recovery. If you or a loved one experience chronic pain, talk to your physician about alternatives to using opioids long-term.
When you pick up medications, ask your pharmacist for detailed instructions. Make sure you let them know every medication you’re taking so you don’t accidentally take more than the recommended dosage of an ingredient.
Learn about medication management to keep your loved ones safe. If you notice significant changes in behavior or personality, reach out.