Everyone is susceptible to developing an addiction to a certain substance. Adolescents, young adults, adults, and seniors can become overly fond of alcohol and drugs. However, specific demographics carry a larger risk of developing an addiction compared to others. Specifically, senior citizens are more likely to develop addictions for pain relief medications based on how frequently they intake it.

According to a survey by The Recovery Village, the common perception is that younger individuals are more likely to be substance abusers. In reality, senior citizens are actually the most likely to develop an addiction to prescription-based drugs, particularly opioid.

The opioid epidemic is considered a national crisis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioid misuse significantly declined among the youth between 2002 to 2014. On the contrary, the misuse statistic doubled among senior citizens aged 50 and above.

This is because of opioid’s pivotal role in pain relief. They are specifically prescribed to treat chronic pain such as arthritis, cancer, and other illnesses as well as body pains that come with age. This drug interacts with specific receptors in the brain to release feel-good hormones that can reduce or eliminate physical pain. Chronic intake of opioid can lead to seniors being reliant and addicted to it.

Unfortunately, not everyone views that it is a dangerous addiction. The symptoms of addiction can easily be mistaken as side effects of aging. These symptoms include sweating, lightheadedness, flushing, and lack of bodily coordination. Other symptoms include personality and lifestyle changes, “doctor shopping” (going to multiple doctors for opioid prescriptions), dietary changes and weight loss, and isolation from friends and family.

The aforementioned symptoms can easily be overlooked, which is why an awareness for this subject is necessary. If you happen to have a senior loved one with prescriptions for opioid, make it a habit to be sensitive to any abrupt behavioral changes. Instruct their caretakers to monitor the intake and make sure that it is not excessive. Addiction accrues from an overdose. Observe their physique and watch out for the appearance of physical symptoms. It will also help to consistently talk to them and maintain an open line of communication so that they’d feel more inclined to disclose to you any problems that they may have.

This doesn’t apply to you. This also applies to your friend who might have a senior loved one with an opioid prescription. Awareness is the key to prevent the prevalence of this addiction. By simply knowing what symptoms to watch out for, you have a shot at catching the addiction early and be able to halt its progression.