Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone. It does not discriminate or choose someone based on age, gender or hometown. It affects the young and the old, the rich and the poor. This harsh reality is currently scaring the state of Washington, the Bellingham Herald reported.
A worrying path in Washington
Washington is one of many states that just underwent the legalization of marijuana. The drug is soon to be dispensed in retail stores starting on July 8. With the drug’s acceptance into their community, addiction experts in Washington fear that addiction will be on the rise, most notably among unexpected age groups like seniors.
Leaders of treatment programs in the area fear this especially. One employee of a rehabilitation center stated that the youngest person they have seen battle addiction was 9 years old, and the oldest was 70 years old.
They believe that with the distribution of the drug, a problem could build that is not worth ignoring.
There are many reasons why a person becomes dependent on a substance or alcohol. It could be the state of a person’s mental health, trauma in his or her home life or a genetic disposition that leads to addiction. Experts say that people become dependent on these drugs at an early age after having easy access to alcohol or prescription pills that lead to experimentation. They believe the same could happen with marijuana.
Like the bridge that leads from curiosity with prescription pills to a full-blown addiction to heroin or other opiates, the experts in the community believe marijuana could lead people down a much more dangerous road of using and experimenting with other illicit drugs and becoming addicted.
Currently, Washington is in the midst of a battle against opiates ravaging its communities. A study in 2013 by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington found a significant rise in addiction to heroin and other opiates as well as overdoses. The areas with the highest prevalence of addiction were in rural areas in Washington with low accessibility to recovery treatment programs and awareness of drug prevention. The study showed that heroin overdoses have doubled from 2000 to 2011 in many counties in Washington.
Drug abuse and seniors
Though addiction is on the rise for the youth, the more troublesome shift seems to be in the senior age group. Experts stated that seniors are one of the fastest expanding groups for substance and alcohol abuse and addiction.
The epidemic is so bad that senior citizens are actually committing criminal acts to get what they seek. Because criminal offenses are not often associated with this group, law enforcement did not see it coming.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, 20 to 30 percent of senior citizens aged 75 to 85 have reported having an alcohol problem, and close to 4 percent of people age 60 to 64 have reported having a drug abuse problem, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported.
Since seniors are known for having to take a larger amount of prescription pills, abuse or addiction of opioids could become a problem as well, the American Osteopathic Association stated.
If you are worried about a senior loved one, make sure he or she is following these steps to prevent drug reliance. Have him or her talk to a doctor regularly about prescriptions to make sure he or she is taking the proper dose and not refilling prescriptions in an irregular manner that may indicate abuse. A doctor should also be made aware of any other substance or alcohol use that a senior engages in. If you are suspicious of an addiction or reliance on substances, look for a lack of appetite, irregular sleep patterns, confusion and irritability, and loss of balance, the AOA advised. If you have witnessed any of these signs, contact your loved one’s doctor to find the right method of recovery treatment.