Senior Adult Opioid Addiction Misdiagnosed as ‘Old Age’

The President’s Commission on the Opioid Crisis reports that only 10 percent of the 21 million people with substance abuse disorders receive any kind of treatment for addiction.

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Senior Adult Opioid Addiction Misdiagnosed as 'Old Age'Why are so few individuals receiving treatment for opioid addiction?

An ‘addict’ can be anyone, any time – if conditions are right.

Could part of the situation be that hurried M.D’s are overlooking symptoms that would be suspicious in a younger person? Are some older adult physical symptoms being categorized and dismissed as ‘just old age’?

Subtle (and not so subtle) ageism in medical practice is something that possibly needs to be looked at more closely. Not every physical problem with older adults is ‘just old age’ and to be accepted without question. Get a 2nd and 3rd medical opinion in cases of ‘sudden decline’ and ‘sudden feebleness’.

Let’s Look at a Typical Case of Older Adult Opioid Addiction

Presenting Symptoms to Doctor: Sudden Feebleness and Sudden Decline in Overall Health

The patient is an older male, retired, age 65+. During his working life, this individual was steady and hard-working with no previous addictions or alcoholism. This individual has no particular emotional or financial stress currently; and before the hospital visit, was not taking any pain medications.

  1. Older man goes into hospital for a procedure or surgery that requires post-procedure pain relief.
  2. Man is prescribed pain meds after surgery, including Oxycontin.
  3. Over time, man needs more pain medication to relieve the pain.
  4. Tolerance has developed. He needs a higher opioid prescription dose to combat pain.
  5. Taking higher doses relieves pain – but the man becomes rapidly feeble; trouble with balance and walking.
  6. Man becomes bed-ridden and feeble. Former low impact exercise program is no longer pursued.
    An under-reported side effect of pain medication is accidental falls with serious outcomes.
  7. Avoiding any physical activity, the man experiences a ‘sudden decline’ in overall health.
  8. His physician, noting the man’s age and recent surgery, concludes the man is simply experiencing the effects of old age.
  9. An  M.D. 2nd opinion suggests that opioid addiction could be the cause; suggests a rehab for older men.
  10. The man is shocked. And totally horrified.
  11. He is not a ‘dope fiend’. Everyone knows that only the morally bankrupt become addicted to drugs.
    Certainly not a man taking medication as prescribed.

Opioid Addiction Hiding in Plain Sight

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Rehab for Men, Baby Boomer Addiction RecoverySubstance abuse among older adults is an invisible epidemic. Among adults 60 and older, it is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country.

Yet, even as the number of older adults suffering from these disorders climbs, the situation remains under-estimated, under-identified, under-diagnosed, and under-treated. Until relatively recently, alcohol and prescription drug misuse, which affects up to 17 percent of older adults, was not discussed in substance abuse or medical literature.

Reasons Senior Adult Addiction Can Be Overlooked

  1. Hurried medical visits. Many general practice MD’s are required to see large numbers of patients daily.
  2. Substance abuse symptoms in older adults can appear to be diabetes, dementia or depression.
  3. Lack of medical studies detailing senior adult opioid tolerance; and reactions to opioids and other drugs.
  4. Medical personnel preconceptions regarding ‘old age.’
  5. Baby Boomer and older adult shame and denial regarding possibility of addiction.
  6. Baby boomer and older adults lack of knowledge regarding symptoms of prescription painkiller addiction.

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery - Rehab for Older MenInsufficient knowledge, limited research data, preconceptions regarding ‘old age’ and hurried office visits – these are all reasons health care providers often overlook substance abuse and misuse among older adults.

Diagnosis can be difficult and more complicated in the older adult population. This is due to the symptoms of substance abuse that sometimes mimic symptoms of other medical and behavioral disorders common to senior adults.

Important for Older Adults Experiencing a ‘Sudden Decline’

  • Get a 2nd – and then a 3rd – Medical Opinion.
  • Make certain full physical and emotional workups are included.

KNOW the Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Signs You May Be Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

  1. Drowsiness and lack of energy.
  2. Restlessness; not interested in previous activities.
  3. Lack of balance and coordination; often leads to more bed rest and reduced physical activity.
  4. Increased ‘feebleness‘: lacking physical or mental strength; difficulty to failure under pressure or stress.
  5. Increased irritability.
  6. Numbness (feeling no pain; or lack of feeling emotionally).
  7. Drug Tolerance (the need to use larger amounts over time).
  8. Withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing use (depressed mood, stomach upset, insomnia, and muscle aches).

Opioid Tolerance and Addiction in Older Adults

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, How Can Opioid Addiction Happen to Older AdultsOf course, not everyone using opioids will become addicted. And some individuals need opioids to manage long term severe pain. However, anyone taking opioids over time will develop a physical tolerance.

Opioids are known to have an inverse effect on pain relief over time. In the beginning opioids are effective as prescribed for relieving pain. Over time the pain relief from opioid decreases, even at the same dose level.

This effect is known as opioid ‘tolerance’ development. Tolerance happens even if the user does not become addicted. Because of the tolerance effect, opioids will not remain effective on low doses indefinitely.

In the past decade, a reliance on prescribing ‘time release’ opioids for severe pain almost guaranteed addiction. This is because the time release opioids did not relieve pain for a full 12 hours. Increasing doses were needed to control pain after a few hours. This was a setup for becoming addicted.

How Can Senior Adults Become Addicted Without Knowing It?

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery - Chronic Alcoholism Rehab Older MenMany older adults, seniors and even baby boomers are initially shocked to discover they could be addicted to their paid meds.

How could anyone become addicted without knowing it?

Are these adults simply not paying attention?

Or, are they knowingly abusing prescription opioid pain medications?

Addiction Can Happen To Anyone – Hiding in Plain Sight

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery - Boomer Opioid Rehab, Prescott, AZAddiction can happen to anyone: At any age, socioeconomic level or gender.

Some individuals have had life-long struggles with addiction.

Other individuals have never had any brushes with addiction and yet find themselves addicted to prescription opioids.

If you find yourself needing stronger prescription opioids or taking more than recommended dosage of prescription opioids – and your quality of life has declined while pain increases: see your doctor.

It may not be that your medical condition is getting worse.
It could be opioid addition – hiding in plain sight.

Prescription Painkiller Addiction Symptoms for Baby Boomers

Have Questions or Need Help with Addiction?

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, Rehab for Boomer Men, Prescott AZArrowhead Lodge Recovery is a gender-specific residential-only addiction treatment center for men over 30; located in Prescott, AZ. We are accredited by The Joint Commission.

We treat addiction in the whole person: cognitive, physical and spiritual. We use mindfulness and meditation as tools to assist in addiction recovery. Mindfulness and meditation  are also used to help clients deal with chronic pain.

Arrowhead-Lodge-Recovery - Boomer-Mens-Rehab-Prescott-AZEach of our clients receives individualized treatment plan, based on their unique circumstances and needs. Recovery plans include individual therapy and counseling; as well as group therapy and counseling.

We use a multi-disciplinary addiction treatment approach to treat the whole person, implemented by licensed professionals.

Mindfulness training, healthy exercise, nutritional counseling and education, cognitive behavioral therapy, co-occurring disorders,  and psychoeducation are a part of our treatment program.

Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program

We have an Impaired Professionals well-being program. If you are monitored by a board that oversees your professional license and requires an assessment, addiction treatment, or both – our Impaired Professionals Well-Being Program provides solutions.

We work with major EAP plans.

Experienced and Licensed Addiction Recovery Team

Arrowhead-Lodge-Recovery-Rehab-for-Older-Men-Prescott-AZAt Arrowhead Lodge Recovery, we have an experienced and licensed addiction recovery team consisting of a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, registered nurse, licensed therapists, and nutritionist.

The experienced and accredited Arrowhead Lodge Team allows us to help men for whom previous treatment attempts may have failed. Thorough medical, psycho-social, addiction and trauma assessments inform medical interventions, medication management needs. Our team’s approach is individual in treating addiction and trauma in each client.

Arrowhead Lodge Recovery also believes strongly in encouraging the power of spirituality in the healing process. We help our clients discover a personal path to living a more authentic life.

Questions? Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Has Answers

Call our admissions counselor now at 1-888-654-2800 for a confidential assessment to see if our addiction recovery program can help you return to a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Related Info:

2018 Opioid Addiction Older Adults
High Functioning Alcoholics – Red Flags
How Insurance Works: Addiction Rehab Allowable Charges, Non-Covered Expenses
How to Spot Quality Addiction Treatment
Middle Aged and Senior Adult Opioid Addiction in America
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery Aftercare: SoberLink Clinical Monitoring
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery 5 Year Continuum of Care
How to Identify Fake Reviews
Functional Alcoholics – Family Impact, Hidden Trauma
Well Being Recovery Program for Professionals
Impaired Professionals Addiction Recovery
Impaired Professionals Comprehensive Evaluation and Assessment
Arrowhead Lodge Recovery – 5 Year Continuum of Care Model
Mindfulness in Addiction Treatment
How Addiction Hijacks the Brain – Mindfulness Restores Sobriety
Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain
Harvard MRI Study Evidence of Meditation’s Cognitive Benefits
Mindfulness Meditation – The 10th Step
Functional Alcoholics – Family Impact, Hidden Trauma

How Addiction Hijacks the Brain – Mindfulness Restores Sobriety
Impaired Professionals in Medicine
Airline Pilot Rehab – Impaired Professionals Recovery
Impaired Professionals: Legal Profession

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