In recent news stories reports show an alarming amount of senior citizens may be getting their pain pills from more than one doctor. Studies done on nearly two million American seniors showed 10 percent of them were receiving their meds from more than one source. Doctors have expressed serious concerns over this, citing some of the dangers involved, and that it could be a possible reason for many opiate related hospital visits concerning seniors. Is it possible the elderly may be hoarding their prescription pills?
According to drug experts, when dealing with opiates or prescription pills, one has to realize the risks of addiction. Opiates are not only mentally addictive but they are also physically addictive. They have also noted that when a person who has turned the corner to full addiction it then becomes a game of survival, explaining that withdrawing from the medication at that point can cause serious complications with the person’s health, and in the case of seniors they could very well die from the withdrawal process.
Additionally experts have added that the longer one uses opiates or pain pills, there is often times an increase is seen in the person tolerance level for the drug. Some experts speculate that this may be the very reason many seniors feel forced to find other doctors. If one doctor is not prescribing enough of the medication to keep them from getting what heroin addicts refer to as dope sick, they may in turn feel physically compelled to find another one.
One senior told reporters he was 93 years-old and he was taking up to ten pain pills per day for pain. Many experts have noted that often time’s seniors do not even realize what may be going on in their bodies that requires so many prescription pills, adding being a drug addict is not something that anyone would like to admit to and seniors are no exception. Drug councilors have been reported as saying they are not surprised one bit, adding that “this type of behavior can be compared with classic heroin addiction, but you will be hard-pressed to convince someone in their last years on earth that one, they are a dope fiend, or two they need to stop taking the medication that they rely on so heavily.
Statistics taken from studies done on young adults by The National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that pain pill use nearly doubled all other illicit drug use combined with the exception of Cannabis in 2012. Could this be a case of substance abuse with seniors as well? Questions are arising about what can Americans do about elderly men and women abusing pain meds. Is there even anything that can be done? Would tighter restrictions on pain pills for seniors be putting them at greater health risks? Should doctors turn a blind eye to seniors and let them live their last few years as they wish? What other reasons can be found for this game of musical doctors being played by seniors other than possibly just elderly dope fiends hoarding prescription pills to secure their stash incase they are cut off by doctors, or folks who may have built up such a tolerance and dependency for the drug that it has become about none other than survival.
By Aaron Thompson