Opioid Misuse Keeps Rising Among Older Americans

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News Picture: Opioid Misuse Keeps Rising Among Older AmericansBy Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 13, 2022 (HealthDay Information)

The opioid addict you recognize won’t be the school child who has at all times dabbled in alcohol and drugs.

It might be your grandparent.

Opioid misuse does not discriminate by age — and charges are rising steadily amongst adults aged 55 and up, new research exhibits.

“You possibly can nonetheless use leisure drugs at an older age. You possibly can have STDs at an older age, however we do not give it some thought, I believe, due to stereotypes about what it means to be an older grownup,” mentioned researcher Maryann Mason. She is an affiliate professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern College’s Buehler Heart for Well being Coverage and Economics, in Chicago.

Mason and a crew from Northwestern’s Feinberg College of Drugs took a more in-depth take a look at opioid use and deaths in older Individuals, breaking the problem down by age, gender, race and ethnicity.

The researchers discovered that between 1999 and 2019, almost 80,000 Individuals aged 55 and older died of an opioid overdose, with a low of 0.9 per 100,000 in 1999 and a excessive of 10.7 per 100,000 in 2019. That is a rise of 1,886% in simply 20 years.

Amongst those that died throughout these years, almost 59% had been males and almost 80% had been aged 55 to 64 years, in response to the report printed on-line Jan. 11 in JAMA Network Open.

By 2013, developments started to diverge by race. By 2019, it meant opioid overdose deaths for non-Hispanic Black males had been about 4 instances the general price for others the identical age.

Mason mentioned the context is necessary. Black Individuals have historically been under-medicated for his or her pain due to discriminatory medical follow. And so they disproportionately reside in communities with much less entry to remedy applications and are provided much less entry to efficient medication-assisted care.

The pattern can also owe partly to the truth that this age group contains folks uncovered to medication whereas serving within the Vietnam Conflict, Mason urged.

Dr. Lawrence Brown Jr., who leads START, a nonprofit group that’s New York’s largest impartial drug remedy company, reviewed the research findings.

He identified that Black Individuals are a various group and that remedy options could fluctuate fairly a bit relying on particular person views. The typical age of START’s purchasers is 55 and most are from minority teams.

Brown famous that older adults can also be extra prone to be prescribed painkillers due to medical situations which are extra frequent as they age, together with cancer. So they could be extra uncovered to addictive opioids by means of “official pathways” than youthful folks, he mentioned.

As a result of START gives major medical care, it is ready to control remedy of a number of illnesses, not simply substance abuse, he added.

“I’d say to our counselors, ‘To what extent are you having your remedy plan handle the opposite co-occurring medical issues that our senior inhabitants could have associated and unrelated to their substance use dysfunction?'” Brown mentioned. “So, in different phrases, if they do not have a major care supplier, how are we serving to to attach them to a major care supplier?”

Mason mentioned older adults are at increased danger for unhealthy outcomes from opioid use as a result of people metabolize drugs differently as they age. They might die from a decrease dose than they’d have as a youthful individual.

The researchers mentioned their findings counsel a necessity for elevated screening of older adults for substance use disorder. The research recommends adapting outreach and remedy fashions to this age group.

“This truly comes at a very good time with Medicaid enlargement, with the ability to perhaps supply well being care insurance coverage to these within the pre-Medicare age, like 55 to 64,” Mason mentioned.

With the flexibility to see extra folks in well being care settings, she mentioned additionally it is necessary to do extra screening for substance misuse.

Extra data

The U.S. Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse has extra on opioids.

SOURCES: Maryann Mason, PhD, affiliate professor, emergency medicine, Northwestern College-Buehler Heart for Well being Coverage and Economics, Chicago; Lawrence Brown Jr., MD, MPH, chief government officer, START Therapy & Restoration Facilities, Brooklyn, N.Y.; JAMA Community Open, Jan. 11, 2022, on-line

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