Grandpa sniffing coke? Grandma gulping down cough syrup? Sounds ridiculous but it cna be true.
Drug abuse is not restricted only to the young. While young people are getting more and more into prescription drug abuse (see previous post on National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month), many of the older generation are still hooked on illicit drugs and trying out OTC drug abuse at the same time. In fact, a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) shows that rate of hospitalization for drug-related conditions among Americans aged 45 years old and older is increasing. The report cited three main types of drug-related conditions that led to hospitalizations in this age group:
- drug-induced delirium
- “poisoning” or overdose by codeine, meperidine and other opiate-based pain medicines
- withdrawal from narcotic or non-narcotic drugs
But it is not only the middle-aged who are abusing substances. Even senior citizens above 65– our grandpas and grandmas- are also involved
The study revealed the following statistics:
- Admissions for all medication and drug-related conditions grew by 117 percent—from 30,100 to 65,400—for 45- to 64-year-olds between 1997 and 2008.
- The rate of admissions for people ages 65 to 84 closely followed, growing by 96 percent.
- For people ages 85 and older, the rate grew by 87 percent.
- By comparison, the number of hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent
The trend found by the AHRQ study was disturbing because it is assumed that adolescents who abuse drugs mature and outgrow the need to try to new and exciting things. And as they grow, they also become wiser and more sensible. Yet, the age distribution of drug abusers seems to be changing, with a tendency to increase with increasing age. The reasons for this are not fully understood and need to be addressed by more studies.
It is, however, important to inform people that drug abuse is dangerous and can kill. AHRQ describes the most common drug-related conditions:
- Drug-induced delirium or dementia can be caused by sleeping pills as well as drugs for urinary incontinence, nausea and other problems common in the elderly, but doctors sometimes cannot identify the cause.
- Poisoning by pain medicines or other drugs containing codeine, meperidine or other opiates can be caused by accidental overdosing or the failure to recognize the drug’s active ingredient.