The opioid epidemic has been a frequent headline over the past few months including how opioid use impacts veterans and rural communities. A recent article from the Wall Street Journal, discusses how opioid use is also impacting seniors.
As summarized in the article: “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans age 45 to 64 accounted for about 44% of deaths from overdoses in 2013 and 2014. And the proportion of adults 50 and older seeking treatment for opioid addiction has increased dramatically in recent decades.”
Many primary care physicians who prescribe prescription pain killers for chronic pain to the elderly lack sufficient training concerning opioids. The Center for Disease Control has issued new guidelines which discourage opioid prescriptions or recommend starting with a low dose for a short amount of time rather than the traditional approach of a 30-90 day trail period. However, it is difficult to convince doctor’s to change their approach after being trained to treat pain as aggressively as possible.
Taking the pills as prescribed and never mixing with alcohol can help prevent addiction and other side effects. However, even when taken as prescribed, opioids can still be dangerous. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor for a lower dose or to try an alternative medication.