Drug addiction over 60: Is it too late? 26



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When we think of drugs, we think of young people consuming cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy in the party scene.

When we think of drug addiction we think of homeless youths who are gaunt and at this point in time have no future and a damaged past.

When we think of drug overdose we think of stupid young people who threw their lives away by partying too hard.

But the reality about drug addiction in Australia is very different.

The Victorian Coroners court released a statement at a medical conference last week saying that prescription drugs were involved in 82 per cent of overdose deaths in Victoria in 2014.

In 2006, a study was conducted that found 87 per cent of women and 83 per cent of men take at least one prescription medicine every day. Over 60s are the largest and fastest growing demographic of any in Australia and right now there is a big problem in the amount of prescription drugs we take and what that is doing to us.

The most common prescription drugs in Australia are analgesics and antidepressants, which make up 21.6 per cent of all prescription drugs followed by cardiovascular medications, which make up 19.8 per cent. These are all drug categories that are associated with the ailments and medical conditions that ageing brings.

So are over 60s at risk of a drug overdose without realising it? Is our generation one that should be receiving more education than the others as the largest users of prescription medication?

I personally have experienced first hand drug addiction in the over 60s. My grandfather had a serious operation some time ago that left damage in his nervous system. He almost constantly felt pain radiating from his right shoulder and down his arm. It kept him awake at night and sometimes he would even cry – something I’d never before seen him do.

At one stage his doctor prescribed morphine and continued to increase his dose until he was able to go about living a regular life again. Only it began to become a highly dependable relationship.

His doctor tried to cease the drug and replace it with healthier ones and he became aggressive, violent and would drink obscene volumes of scotch to numb the pain. He then went so far as to attempting to obtain and then self medicate using morphine while he was in hospital claiming that he’d rather be dead than without it.

It was terrifying to watch and the reality is that it could happen to anyone. Although some drugs are more sinister than others, they’re all substances that aren’t natural to our bodies and in one way or another, we grow to depend on them.

So today let’s have a chat about our own prescription medication. Do you take any? Have you seen addiction take place in over 60s? Is it possible to live without prescription drugs? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I blame the doctors.It seems every time you see a doctor he or she is trying to give you medication for something.I will not take anything except my puffer.I recently broke my back,herniated a disc and ripped my hip muscle full width.The doctor got quite annoyed with me when i would not take the strong pain killers he prescribed.24 weeks later i am still in a small amount of pain but gradually getting better and all without anything stronger than a few paracetamol tablets and yes i was in a tremendous amout of pain.At least i was clear headed and am glad i did not take the morphine he prescribed.

  2. Please stop asking for me to do survey happy to answer some questions but not others . So if you can’t accept that then stop asking love Starts with 60. But also like my privacy

    2 REPLY
  3. I work with elderly and disabled people in their own homes. In the past 2 years 3 of my clients were hospitalised and it was discovered they were all over dosed on prescription drugs. Doctors had been writing scripts and not looking at what they were already on.

    2 REPLY
    • Sick thought.. …. Seen it all before… Keeps the chemical plants rich that what the doctors get paid for pump out the prescriptions. Most of the pills we take shut down something in the body.. Most drugs Don’t prolong quality of your life Or kill the disease or destroy the problem. They create another problem else where.

  4. I take a very addictive drug daily and must for the rest of my life. Its not for fun its so I can walk and have some semblance of normality. I have no understanding of people who thinks drugs are a blast. It debilitates your mind,your sleep your ability to make plans. And just an added note to people,if you don’t want to do surveys then simply move on to something else. Surveys help to get a broader perspective on things.

    2 REPLY
    • I used to take these ‘drugs’ but they stopped them. Now, I live in hell with constant disabling pain.

    • Have chosen to take the drugs instead of living with the pain. But not happy having to do so. It’s a major compromise.

  5. I think people should find a doctor they can trust and then follow his/her advice on which medications to take! An annual review would also be wise!

  6. I struggle to take tablets so would love not to take any, unfortunately my doctors recommend I take them for health reasons.

  7. I was taking an addictive pain-killer for many years, my doctor at the time said you dont become addicted if you are in genuine pain? More recently the doctors have been told to cut back on opiates so I was one of the guinea–pigs. I had no withdrawals at all but now I have to live with constant debilitating pain. I wish the same to all those politicians in office at this moment in time, shame on them.

  8. Valerie I tried to just put what information I wanted to put but it would not let me go to next section until I filled it all in I said I was happy to give some information but it would not let me go further

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