Senior Drug Abuse on the Rise

by Josh Overholser on May 21, 2014 at 6:31 am

It’s no secret that prescription drug abuse plagues many youth throughout the country, but it’s now becoming a problem for many senior citizens as well.

Hundreds of thousands of seniors misuse painkillers and prescription drugs, and many are even becoming addicted.  Steve Carrel of Muskingum Behavioral Health said the problem is also on the rise right here in the Zanesville area and that the vast majority of drugs taken in on medication take back day come from area seniors.

"Usually, when it comes in, it comes in a bag," Carrel said.  "It doesn’t come in a bottle, it comes in bags of bottles, so it’s a prevalent problem."

According to Carrel, about 10 to 15 percent of those who use an abusive drug will become addicted, but that number is likely higher among the elderly population due to a lower metabolism.  Carrel also said it’s becoming increasingly easier for the elderly to get prescriptions from doctors.

"A little old lady or a little older guy goes to the doctor and he says, ‘I’ve got pain.’ Well, let’s get rid of the pain for them. After all, they’re a senior citizen, and we want to make their life really good and pleasant. And for some people, something changes in the brain that kicks in the addiction."

To learn more about the potential dangers of abusive painkillers and prescription drugs, Carrel says you should talk with your doctor and pharmacist, or you can always call Muskingum Behavioral Health at 740-454-1266.