The Opioid Epidemic Affects Grandparents Too!
by: Jane Snider, LPC.
Grandma, What’s Wrong with Mama
Mama, What’s Wrong with Grandma?
As you know, if you read my last blog, I will be 70 in August. As an official Senior, I am interested in what is going on in my world and with my peers.
Imagine my surprise when I received the latest copy of AARP, (which, by the way, is an outstanding publication), and saw the cover which blared “OPIOID EPIDEMIC, How America’s
Addiction to Painkillers Affects You” across a map of the United States.
AARP lays out three ways that this epidemic is affecting the older generation:
- Grandparents are increasingly being asked to take over care for their grandchildren as their parents go off to jail or rehab for opioid addiction. Using the state of Maine as an example, the article noted that about 8% of babies are born to women who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, while the number of children raised solely by grandparents in that state rose 24 % between 2010 and 2015. Regrettably, few states have any help available for grandparents raising grandchildren. Nationwide more than 2.6 million people are raising grandchildren.
- For elderly people, addiction frequently starts with a legitimate prescription from a doctor. Makes complete sense when you understand that opioids are painkillers. Seniors tend to have a lot of pain over time. Dependence can set in after only one week.
AARP furnished the following numbers:
“Almost one-third of all Medicare patients, nearly 12 million people, were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians in 2015.
That same year 2.7 million Americans over age 50 abused painkillers, meaning they took them for reasons or in amounts not prescribed by their doctors.
The hospitalization rate due to opioid abuse has QUINTUPLED for those 65 years and older in the past two decades.”
- The most surprising finding was that ‘retirement age people have become a new source of illicit painkillers sold on the open market’ sometimes because they sell them to supplement low income; sometimes because family members steal their medications to sell.
If you or a loved one has an opioid problem, please begin the road back by speaking to a Substance Abuse therapist.
For more information on this article and more in depth information on the problem, please go to AARP.ORG/Bulletin, June 2017, Vol 58, NO.5
As always, my thanks to AARP for keeping it real for Seniors.