Opioid abuse affects seniors in a major way.
And yet the myth persists it’s a major problem among young people.
The facts say otherwise.
A major new report lays out the problem of opioid abuse among seniors.
It comes from The National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) in Ottawa.
It’s an advocacy group for the elderly.
Last year, 30 per cent of all opioid-related deaths occurred among Canadians 50 and older, the report says.
Adults 65 and older had the highest rates of hospitalization because of opioid toxicity.
Fentanyl is an opioid.
The report notes sometimes seniors overdose at home when they apply new fentanyl patches without taking the old ones off.
“There’s still a little residual in the fentanyl patch,” says Marilyn White-Campbell, a geriatric addiction consultant with the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health.
“There’s overdose situations there, some fatal.”
In other cases, seniors apply heating pads on their backs over a fentanyl patch.
This risks an overdose as the heat speeds up the drug’s release into the body.
The study says most overdoses were accidental.
But an alarming amount were intentional.
More than 30 per cent of cases of opioid users sought to take their lives.
They were mainly men.
NICE is urging health-care professionals to focus treatment on the specific needs of the elderly.
Also it wants to see better research to improve pain management.
And see a comprehensive study launched on the longer-term impact of treating seniors with opioids.
It also recommends better research to improve pain management.
Opioid Abuse Affects Seniors
Canada also needs to launch a comprehensive study of the effects of longer-term opioid treatment on older people.
The report calls for better staff training and improved data-sharing between different jurisdictions.
This would result in better opioid prescription strategies.
Substance abuse is a huge problem.
It costs the Canadian economy a fortune – $38 billion.
And while the statistics tell the story they don’t bring home the horror and anguish of drug abuse.