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Addiction Woes For Older Americans

Truth be told, aging can be a very difficult process for many Americans. It is often accompanied by chronic pain, the loss of close loved ones and overall depression due to loneliness and limited mobility. Take a step back and it’s not hard to see that these types of issues can easily spiral into addiction; which they often do, claims U.S. News And World Report.

New research revealed on the site highlights the dramatic rise in dependencies among U.S. seniors. And things may continue to get worse, with the latest trends indicating that as many as 5.7 million Americans above the age of 50 will be addicted by the year 2020.

Not surprisingly, prescription drugs are primarily to blame for this latest uptick. Managing issues like this has always been a delicate situation for people of an advanced age. On the one hand, painkillers may be legitimately necessary as chronic ailments continue to worsen. But what may serve a dutiful purpose can ultimately spiral out of control when an unregulated senior begins misusing their dosages.

Noted cognitive behavioral therapist Kate Lufkin was quoted in the U.S. News piece, emphasizing that older Americans don’t always grasp the dangers of medication that they’re ingesting

“For dangerous drugs like opioids, the biggest hurdle is getting seniors to say, ‘Maybe I am taking this inappropriately. Maybe there is a better way,'” Lufkin told the site. “What they’re thinking is, ‘My doctor gave this to me and I feel better. Why would I stop?'”

But let’s not forget that older Americans are also in a weaker state than someone using in their early 20’s, putting them at a higher risk of a fatal overdose. In fact, among U.S. adults aged 65 and older, OD deaths shot up by 17 percent within the past three years.

It can also be argued that those from previous generations are less in tune with the recovery resources available to them. Worse yet, they may carry a stigma about “rehab” and hold back from seeking help based on pride or embarrassment.

Addiction education and awareness are essential in these types of scenarios. This population needs to know that they can successfully get clean at any age. All that is needed is taking that first critical step.