It's no secret that opiate abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. From people abusing prescription painkillers to getting hooked on heroin, thousands of people each year are becoming addicted as well as passing away from fatal overdoses. A misconception is that younger and middle-aged people are the only ones who can become addicted to opiates, but there's a rising trend of adults over 50 who are struggling with an opioid abuse problem.
Most opioid addicts begin by abusing prescription narcotic pain medications. Some of the most commonly abused pain medications include oxycodone and hydrocodone. These can be found in OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet medications, and they can be highly addictive. They stimulate the opioid receptors in the brain, and for some people, the euphoric feeling they receive can spark an intense craving. Eventually, it's more and more difficult for people to get their medications refilled in order to satisfy their opiate abuse problem. This can lead to people purchasing the pills illegally, injecting or snorting the medication, and eventually turning to heroin when all else fails.
There's no age limit when it comes to addiction, and many American adults over 50 are becoming addicted to this extremely dangerous drug. As people begin to age, their muscles and bones get weaker, and they may be victims of chronic pain. People who've never had a problem with substance abuse in the past may be prescribed opiates and can become addicted over time. When people take these medications for months or years their body builds a tolerance and they can become dependent. In studies conducted in those who have a problem with an opiate addiction, adults over 50 years of age represent a larger and larger demographic. Between 1996 and 2012, opiate addiction among people 40 years of age and younger dropped from 56% to 20%. Those who are 50 years of age and older saw an increase. Addicts will justify and rationalize their using in any way possible, and pain is often their reason for using. If you have a loved one who is older and may be struggling with an opiate addiction, don't be afraid to call Freedom From Addiction and ask for help.
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