24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

Prescription drug abuse in the elderly is a real issue. One third of spending (in the United States) spent on prescription medications are by people over the age of sixty-five. These patients are typically prescribed multiple prescriptions and long-term medications which may lead to cognitive decline in some people, and could lead to abuse of the prescriptions. Those individuals on a fixed income may resort to abusing someone else’s prescriptions in order to save money. If you or a loved one need help finding a treatment center. Contact better addiction care at (800) 429-7690 to review your treatment options.

6 Minute Read | Published Sep 25 2023 | Updated Mar 06 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Information about Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

The geriatric community suffers from higher rates of comorbid illnesses, changes in drug metabolism, and a high potential for drug interactions. For these reasons, elderly prescription drug abuse is a growing problem. In addition to the aforementioned points, this population consumes larger amounts of dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications which, along with alcohol, may pose a problem and have more serious side effects if they are abusing prescription medications.

Which Meds Can Increase the Risk?

Prescription drug misuse in the elderly can commonly be traced to two substances: opioids and benzodiazepines. These drugs have a high instance of addiction in general – and more so in the older community.

  • Benzodiazepines are drugs prescribed by medical doctors to treat insomnia, panic attacks, and anxiety. The longer a person takes these medications, the higher the chance they will become addicted to them. In this category are: alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin).
  • Opioids are prescribed to control pain. Again, long-term use of this type of drug may cause a person to become addicted. Additionally, taking more than prescribed and more often than prescribed may also pose a problem. In this category are: oxycodone combined with acetaminophen (Percocet), oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone combined with acetaminophen (Vicodin).

Do you suspect someone of elderly prescription drug abuse? Call better addiction care at (800) 429-7690 to discuss treatment options with a trained professional today.

How Can You Tell?

Prescription drug abuse in the elderly is something you can try to spot and do something about. Look for the following clues:

  • Sneaking or hiding medications;
  • Storing “extras” for later in their purse or a certain spot;
  • Doctor shopping; you find prescriptions for the same medication from two (or more) different physicians;
  • Filling a prescription at different pharmacies;
  • You notice that this person takes more medication than prescribed;
  • This person has been treated for addiction in the past;
  • They make excuses for why they need certain medications;
  • This person takes medications more times per day than prescribed;
  • You notice behavioral changes in the person;
  • This person discusses medications often;
  • They are literally afraid to be without the medications;
  • When you ask about the medications, do they become defensive or uncomfortable?

Prescription drug misuse in the elderly can be a sensitive subject. This person does not want to be told what to do, especially because of their advanced age. The last thing you want to do is be disrespectful. However, if you believe the individual is truly abusing drugs – you can try to talk to the physician that prescribed the medication. This way, the doctor can try to get them help.

Although the elderly do not appear to be the usual drug addicts – it is a serious problem. Take control of access to their medications and assure they are taking the right dosage.

If you need help with prescription drug abuse in the elderly, please call better addiction care today at (800) 429-7690 to speak with a specialist. They can help review your options with you and locate treatment services that fit your needs.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse
"What is the scope of prescription drug misuse in the United States?"
Retrieved on July 10, 2017
bullet familiydoctor.org
"Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly"
Retrieved on July 10, 2017

Related Articles

Clonidine Abuse Updated: Mar 06 2024 Clonidine is a medication used to treat anxiety, high blood pressure, and the symptoms of alcohol or opioid withdrawal. Clonidine is a depressant medication considered less harmful than...
Prescription Drug Street Names Updated: Mar 07 2024 By their formal names, prescription drugs sound far different than they do when referred to by slang terms. It’s common for people to...
Commonly Abused OTC Medications Updated: Mar 06 2024 OTC medications are those which you can buy over the counter at the grocery store or drug store. But just because they’re available without...

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel