Spotting The Signs Of Opiate Addiction In The Elderly


While people generally think of drug addiction as something that happens to young adults, it can happen to people in any age group and the elderly are no exception. Opiates such as Oxycodone and Vicodin are often prescribed when elderly patients have hip or knee replacement surgery or develop pain from other age-related conditions. Some patients may take the pills improperly and enjoy the high they produce, which can easily lead to addiction. Unfortunately, loved ones often assume that chemical dependency is a young peoples' problem and may not consider that their elderly family members can become addicted just as easily.  Here are three signs that can indicate when an elderly person may be using opiates for their euphoric effects rather than for pain relief.

1. Changing doctors or pharmacies ("provider shopping")

Many addicts switch doctors when they meet with resistance about getting a prescription refilled, or if a pharmacist becomes suspicious and won't fill a prescription. If an elderly friend or relative has had the same doctor or used a favorite pharmacy for years and suddenly switches, it's worth investigating the reason why. They may be trying to find a provider who asks fewer questions or who is known to dispense opiates more freely.

2. Mood changes

Mood changes and mood swings can be side effects of other medications, or they can be the result of age-related medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke or simply depression. However, when their mood changes with no apparent cause, if they seem overly anxious about running out of pills or if they become hostile when asked about their opiate use, it can be a sign of addiction. If they become withdrawn or ambivalent only in discussions about their opiate use, it could be a sign that they have become physically dependent on pills.

3. Increased dosages or usage

If an elderly person starts getting prescriptions with higher dosages or taking progressively more pills, it's a good indicator that they are misusing their medications. When pain pills are prescribed for short-term use, for example, after surgery, they usually include a step-down plan so that people can taper off gradually and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Since surgical pain generally fades with time, prescriptions with an increased dosage should be treated suspiciously. The patient may be claiming that their pain is worse in order to get prescriptions increased or refilled. The same is true if an elderly person starts taking more frequent doses.

If an elderly relative exhibits any of these signs, it doesn't necessarily mean they are addicted to opiates – there could be legitimate explanations for their behaviors. However, these changes could also be the first signs of dependency and need to be discussed with your loved one and/or their doctor if possible. You can also contact a counselor or treatment facility – preferably one that's familiar with treating the elderly. These professionals can provide  more information and advice on identifying a drug addition, bringing it up with your loved one and helping them overcome it. 



23 June 2016

Allergy Relief: You Have More Options Than You Think

As a child, I used to spend my days roaming through the woods. I climbed trees, smelled the flowers, and laid in the grass looking at the clouds. My love for nature continued through my teen years, but when I turned 23, I began to sneeze whenever I left my home. I could no longer enjoy my outdoor hikes and I started taking antihistamines so I could at least open my windows on warm days. My allergies got worse though and I met with an allergist who completed a variety of skin tests. I started receiving allergy shots and my allergist taught me about natural cleaning processes and sinus rinses. The injections and natural treatments improved my quality of life greatly. Even if you do not want to start allergy injections, you have a variety of options that can lessen your symptoms, and you should learn what these options are.