Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic: What You Need to Know
The nation’s opioid epidemic is affecting baby boomers in very significant ways. Opioids range from prescription painkillers like codeine to illicit drugs like heroin. Experts worry that, as this population continues to age and opioid-based painkillers are increasingly prescribed to treat pain, which often accompanies age and decline in health, increased numbers of baby boomers will be drawn into this epidemic of opioid addiction.
Baby boomers and the opioid epidemic are currently subjects of medical research. By understanding this population’s susceptibility to addiction, treatment centers can find improved ways to help people suffering from substance addiction.
The opioid family of drugs has its origins in the opium poppy plant, so baby boomers and the opioid epidemic begin with a plant known for its inherent duality of beauty and danger. On one hand, prescription opioids like morphine are extremely helpful. They are instrumental in reducing post-surgical pain and chronic pain. On the other hand, the dark side of these drugs is that they are highly addictive.
People who take opioids for chronic pain are at increased risk of developing drug tolerance. When tolerance increases and dosages are then increased to maintain the drug’s effectiveness, there is an increased risk for addiction. For this reason, physicians closely monitor patients taking opioids for chronic pain and may require them to change medications routinely to reduce the risk of drug tolerance. Despite safety precautions, people do become addicted to opioid-based prescription drugs, and as many as three-quarters of people addicted to opioid medications will transition to heroin, an illicit drug made by synthesizing morphine.
Baby boomers and the opioid epidemic is an issue for the medical community. Baby boomers are at increased risk for pain, but doctors understand that with increased use of opioids, increasing numbers of baby boomers could succumb to addiction.
Treatment for Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic
Addiction treatment can help baby boomers who abuse opioids or have an opioid addiction. Addiction treatment centers throughout the country have seen increased numbers of patients in their 50s and 60s. The problem for many baby boomers, however, is that they don’t seek treatment for their addiction. Many of these individuals are retired and keep their addiction well hidden from family and even their healthcare providers.
The connection between baby boomers and the opioid epidemic is one that addiction treatment centers are highly focused on as the trend for increased addiction rates among baby boomers is predicted to continue. Treatment centers are focused on inpatient and outpatient treatments that are better suited to this age group. While addiction to any opioid is serious, treatment can be effective and help sufferers overcome their dependencies. Addiction treatment centers must also work with medical caregivers to provide pain sufferers with alternative ways to manage their pain as they progress through the addiction recovery process.
While baby boomers are becoming addicted to opioids at increasing rates, many addiction treatment centers are poised and ready to help this population. If you are a baby boomer and are addicted to a prescription or illicit opioid, help is waiting for you at an addiction treatment facility.