Older adults at risk for prescription drug addiction


by KING 5 News


Posted on July 11, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 11 at 6:28 PM

When we hear about drug addiction, most of the headline involve younger people, but more and more older adults are becoming addicted, mainly to prescription medications.

Five weeks after going off Xanax, John is still dealing with withdrawal tremors. He started taking the drug more than a decade ago for anxiety. He quickly built up a tolerance and needed more.
"I finally found a site on the internet where I could get them and that's when I started taking 6 to 8 per day," he said.

One in four adults over fifty uses a psychoactive drug, either a narcotic painkiller or an anxiety drug. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 46 percent jump among this population seeking substance abuse treatment. Those numbers are projected to go even higher.
"I know now I wish I'd never would have taken them," he said.
John lost his job, his relationship and is in financial ruin. He now lives with his sister who hopes people start questioning their doctors.

"When they get prescribed something they think, 'Oh it's OK. I've got a prescription. My doctor gave it to me. It must be fine.' You have to be more involved in your own care," Patty Puskac said.

"They just give it out like it's candy just to get their money for a doctor's visit. They hand you a prescription and you're all happy until you realize you're addicted and it's too late," said John.
John also admits his part in this.

"I'm sure the pharmacist asked me if I had any questions about this drug and I'm sure I said 'no,' had I said, 'Yes, what are the consequences?' Maybe I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you," he said.

While addiction is dangerous for everyone, older adults are even more at risk because they have more chronic pain and already take more prescription drugs than any other age group.