Prescription Drug Risks with the Elderly

As people grow older, they start to suffer from more physical and cognitive ailments. These ailments often need prescription drugs to decrease the effects of the symptoms or to keep the problems at bay. One of the issues that have arisen from the increased need for prescription drugs is dependence and addiction. Knowing what is considered dependence and addiction will help determine if you or a love done is suffering from it.

The Difference Between Dependence and Addiction

Dependence is when you feel as though you cannot live without the drug. Your doctor may say that you no longer need the medication, but you feel that you do and become anxious when he tries to take you off of it.

You can be physical, emotional or mentally dependent on prescription drugs. Physically dependent means that you will start to feel sick when you haven’t taken a dose or two. Emotionally dependent means that you start to feel sad, nervous, or mad when you can’t take your medication. Mentally dependent means that you don’t believe you can do anything throughout the day without your medication.Prescription Drug Risks with the Elderly

At this point, you may start to think that addiction is the same as dependence because it sounds a lot like it. However, addiction is very different with a few similarities.

It’s true that addiction carries dependence. When someone is addicted to prescription drugs, he or she will feel physically, emotionally and mentally dependent. They will not be able to deal with the doctor no longer wanting him or her to take the prescription drug.

The difference is that the person will go as far as possible to get the drug. There’s no way around not taking it. This means the person will go to another doctor to try to get the same medication that the other doctor refused to prescribe. Some people will go to drug dealers in the community to get the medication.

Those addicted will build a tolerance to the prescription drugs and take more as time goes on. They will start to take an enormous amount of pills a day disregarding the chance that they may overdose. Their life starts to slip away from them. The drugs seem more important than anything else. This causes trouble with relationships and even taking care of oneself. People who are addicted have a very hard time looking beyond the drugs. They are tied to them all day every day.

As you can see addiction is much more serious than dependence, but they both pose risks for the elderly. Due to all of the complications the elderly already has to deal with, taking unauthorized medications or too many of them could end up leading to many more health problems. It can lead seniors to slip and fall because of the overuse or misuse of the drugs.

It’s a serious problem facing a lot of senior citizens these days. It’s important to speak to your doctor immediately, if you feel that you or your loved one is dependent or addicted to prescription drugs.

If you’re finding it difficult to deal with the mental and emotion part of helping someone with his or her prescription drug problem, contact Kendall Van Blarcom. He can help you by listening to what is going on right now and help you urge your loved one to seek help. Learn more about personal consulting here.

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Kendall E. Van Blarcom, Psy.M. Licensed Psychotherapist (Retired)

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