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Elderly Opioids Addiction Overdose Deaths Rising In USA

A class of compounds generated naturally in the opium poppy plant, opioids act on the central nervous system to create various effects, including pain relief in many circumstances. Opioids can be prescription drugs, such as pain relievers, or illicit narcotics, such as heroin, that are used to treat or prevent pain. Pain impulses between the brain and the body are blocked by many prescription opioids, which are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioids, in addition to alleviating pain, can cause some people to feel calm, joyful, or "high," and they can lead to addiction if used repeatedly. Breathing difficulties, constipation, nausea, disorientation, and tiredness are all possible side effects of using this medication.

Opioid Overdose Deaths Among Seniors Increasing

Opioid overdose fatalities among seniors are at an all-time high. Overdose fatalities among Americans aged 55 and older increased by 1,886% from 1999 to 2015. Worse, older non-Hispanic Black males were four times more likely to die from an opiate overdose than other older persons.

New data from Northwestern Medicine on fatal opioid overdoses among people 55+ reveals a very different picture. Between 1999 and 2019, the number of opioid-related overdose fatalities among Americans aged 55 and older grew from 518 to 10,292, a 1,886 percent increase. “Many of us believe drug abuse is a youth issue, according to Maryann Mason, associate professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Published in JAMA Network Open on Jan. 11.

Lori Post, senior author and Buehler Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Feinberg, said: “Many are Baby Boomers who used recreational drugs in their youth and have continued to use into their older age.” “That goes against our notions of the ‘older adult.' We don't think of them as drug users, but it's rising."During that time, 79,893 Americans aged 55 to 80 died of opioid overdoses, with about half being between 55 and 64, Mason said. The study revealed that the total death rate per 100,000 persons aged 55 and above climbed from 0.9 in 1999 to 10.7 in 2019.

Are Older Adults More Sensitive To Opioids?

Because of changes in metabolism that occur with age, older persons are frequently more sensitive to the adverse effects of opioids and other drugs. The use of opioids by older persons can result in excessive sedation, respiratory depression, impairment in vision, attention span, coordination, and the possibility of falling. Compared to younger individuals with opioid use disorder, older persons with opioid use disorder appear to be at a greater risk of death than younger adults with the illness.

How Does Opioid Addiction Develop?

Anyone who uses opioids runs the risk of becoming addicted. Your personal history and the amount of time you take opioids both have a role, but it's hard to predict who will become addicted to and misuse these medicines. Whether legal or illicit, stolen or shared, these medications are responsible for most overdose deaths in the United States today. Addiction is a disease in which something that was once delightful becomes something you can't live without.

Doctors define substance addiction as an overwhelming yearning for a drug, out-of-control and compulsive use, and continued use despite recurrent, adverse outcomes. Opioids are highly addictive, mainly owing to the activation of potent reward regions in the brain. Opioids cause the release of endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain while increasing feelings of pleasure, resulting in a brief but intense sense of well-being. When an opioid dose wears off, you may want those pleasant emotions back as quickly as possible. This is the first step on the road to probable addiction.

Researchers have discovered that using opioid drugs for more than a few days increases your risk of long-term usage, which raises your chance of becoming addicted to the prescription. After only five days on opioids, the likelihood that you will continue using them a year after starting a brief course increases significantly. A variety of additional elements, including genetic, psychological, and environmental factors, have a role in addiction, which can develop immediately or over a long period following opioids.

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