Prescription drug addiction does not discriminate. It affects teenagers, adults, and even seniors. Drug abuse and dependency is an important issue to be aware of as people age. Many take at least one medication every day. Keep reading to learn more about what puts seniors at risk for prescription drug addiction.  How to prevent it and recognizing signs of addiction in the elderly.

The Risks of Addiction in Seniors

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that more than 50 percent of older adults, between ages 57 and 85 take five medications or supplements daily and some take even more than that. The more medications and supplements that a senior takes, the more likely it is that they may take medication incorrectly. This may lead to interactions with other medications and change how medications are metabolized. Because seniors absorb medication and filter medications differently than younger people, they can develop an addiction to it or experience side effects at a lower dosage.

Opioid medications like Percocet and Vicodin, which are used for pain control, can become addictive if taken too much or long-term. Medications are used to treat conditions like anxiety and panic attacks. Known as benzodiazepines, drugs like Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin are also addictive with long-term use.

How to Prevent Addiction

Making sure your loved one has the medications they take reviewed by their prescribing doctor is one way to reduce addiction. Seniors also tend to see multiple doctors, so it may be helpful to keep track of medications prescribed by each doctor to prevent them, from being prescribed excessively or by more than one doctor.

Educating family members, friends, and caregivers about prescription drug addiction is another preventative step. It’s common for seniors to receive medication from family or friends, and this is how addiction can start. Discussing how addiction happens, why it’s not a good idea to share medication, and how to dispose of leftover pills are important topics to start with.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

The signs of drug addiction aren’t always easy to recognize. Memory loss and confusion can be associated with other diseases. Other signs include:

  • Frequently talking about a specific medication
  • Taking more medication than the dosage indicates, or taking it at a time other than prescribed.
  • Have fear of leaving without taking a medication
  • Sneak or hide medication
  • Makeup reasons why they need to say something

If an older person has already been treated for prescription drug abuse, other drugs, or alcohol in the past, the chances of relapse are possible. Doctors can also help provide a referral to someone who is qualified to assist.

Getting older in the Newport Beach or Orange County, CA area isn’t easy. Turn to Optimal Senior Care Solutions to find a caregiver who will treat your loved one with respect and is trained to help keep the person you love safe. Reach out to us today!