New study shows drug addiction among older Americans is on the rise

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Opioid abuse among people 50 years and older is increasing, as older Americans are relying more on drugs that could kill them. A new report shows that opioid abuse in that age group has nearly doubled over the last decade.

“The addiction rate for 18 to 25 has gone down, whereas the population for over 50 for addiction rate has almost doubled,” said counselor Daniel Simmons with the Hazelden Betty Ford facility in Naples.

When most think of opiate addiction, street drugs like heroin usually come to mind. But for people like Kristina Crews—a woman recovering from addiction—it was a legal drug that got her hooked.

“I was arrested luckily and they saved my life because I could not pull 24 hours together,” Crews said.

The newest trend in opiate abuse demographics likely has to do with recoveries from surgical procedures, experts say. Patients simply take what doctors prescribe.

“They’ve grown up with a lot of trust in doctors and taught not to question a doctor’s judgement. A doctor’s judgement is final,” Simmons said.

For many over the age of 50, these pain medications are necessary post-surgery because recovery is slower. But Simmons says people need to check up on what they’re taking and how much of it.

“This is not a thing that’s gonna go away any time soon—this is an epidemic,” Simmons said.

Simmons adds that another issue is Medicare. He says they’ll cover the costs of prescription medication, but won’t help people with recovery programs if they become addicted.

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