A growing number of older adults are becoming addicted to opioid painkillers, The New York Times reports. They are using the pills to deal with the aches and pains of aging and the anxiety that can come with retirement.
“They’ve built a fortress around themselves,” said Joseph Garbely, Medical Director of Caron Treatment Centers. “Their resources allow them to advance in their addiction without detection. So the addiction progresses.” He notes that signs of addiction such as confusion, shaky hands and mood swings are often thought to be symptoms of aging.
It can be difficult to detox older adults from prescription drugs, Dr. Garbely said. “They have to be monitored and slowly withdrawn. Opioid withdrawal won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead.”