Opioid addiction among the elderly has become more and more prevalent in recent years. With painkillers being used as a way of managing chronic pain, you can see why. However, there are risks involved with using these dangerous drugs to help in pain management. The effects that opioid addiction and dependence can have on your life can be far reaching and affect not only you, but those around you. Understanding these risks and dangers can help you to save yours or a loved one’s life.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a kind of drug used in the treatment and management of acute and chronic pain. They are often prescribed after surgery or major injury, and provide comfort to those who need them. Taken as directed and prescribed by a doctor, these medications can be beneficial to helping someone to recover when taken for short periods of time. However, when not taken as directed, opioid medications can lead to physical dependence, or addiction.
Opioids work by traveling through the bloodstream to the brain and attaching to the opioid receptors. This causes a change in the way pain is perceived in the body and can boost your pleasure sensors. Even at low doses, opioid pain medications can make users drowsy, and higher doses have the capability to slow breathing and heart rate, making them dangerous regardless of the level someone is taking.
Using opioid pain medication can also lead to addiction. The rising rates of prescriptions being written is leading to opioid addiction among the elderly. Some of the most vulnerable people in the country are older adults who suffer from chronic pain. Taking opioids, even as prescribed, can often lead to harmful results such as addiction.
Effects of Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction can have long and short term effects on the person who uses them. Addiction to these drugs can lead a person to require more and more of the drug in order to feel the desired effects, causing them to use higher and higher doses. This can often lead to overdose, and potentially an overdose can have fatal consequences. Because opioids can cause shallow breathing and slowed heart rate, it can cause lack of oxygen to the brain leading to damage in this complex and vital organ. Opioid addiction among the elderly can be extremely dangerous as they generally already suffer from a litany of health concerns which can be complicated when a physical addiction to prescription opioids is introduced.
Risks of Opioid in the Elderly Community
Because of the array of potential health concerns already affecting them, opioid addiction among the elderly can lead to some severe complications. Because opioids have such an effect on pain receptors and alter the way a person perceives pain, it is often seen that older adults who experience pain after initially using the drugs return to using them once they begin to feel pain again. This is dangerous, especially when done without proper supervision and prescription from a medical professional. Some of the most commonly abused and misused prescription opioids among the elder generations include Vicodin, Percorcet, and Oxycontin. These drugs lead to some physical reactions from using the drugs long term. Those symptoms can include things like:
- Loss of bone density
- Increased fall risk
- Impaired or slowed respiratory function
Opioid users also run a risk of cognitive impairment. This can lead to different mental health conditions. What’s more, it generally requires the treatment of the substance abuse concerns in order to alleviate symptoms of the mental health concerns. Therefore, substance abuse treatment is recommended, especially for opioid addiction.
Signs of Opioid Addiction in the Elderly
There are many signs of opioid addiction among the elderly that a loved one could look out for. If you have a grandmother, grandfather, or any other older adult in your life that you have any concerns about, there are different signs that could help you to identify that there is a possibility that they may need detox and addiction treatment. Some of those symptoms include:
- Memory impairment
- Extreme and rapid weight loss
- Lack of hygiene
- Emotional outbursts
- Lying, especially surrounding their use of opioids
- Lack of coordination
- Impaired or poor judgment
This is just a small list of things a loved one could look out for to identify opioid addiction among the elderly. However, if you have concerns surrounding a loved one’s use of opioid medications, encouraging them to seek help as soon as possible is the best thing you could do for them.
Addiction Treatment for Seniors in Nashville, TN
Addiction to opioid is prevalent throughout all age groups. The results can be devastating. However, there is help for those struggling with opioid dependence. If you or a loved one struggle with addiction to opioid painkillers, we at Brentwood Springs Detox can help. Our team of professionals can provide the best care possible for those who are seeking to break the cycle of addiction.
Help is just a single phone call away. Contact us to begin your journey to recovery from opioid dependence today.