In recent years, the rise of illicit fentanyl has posed a significant threat to senior citizens. As we delve into the troubling facts and reasons behind this concerning issue, it becomes evident that urgent action is needed. FentanylSolution.org, offers an infographic and video specifically addressing the dangers faced by senior citizens in relation to fentanyl.
Fentanyl’s Grip on Senior Citizens: Eye-Opening Statistics
In 2020, over 800,000 seniors in the United States battled drug addiction, emphasizing the escalating problem of substance abuse among older individuals (Health and Human Services). The numbers continue to climb, revealing the urgency of addressing this issue head-on.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation is the staggering increase in opioid-related deaths among Americans aged 55 and above. In 1999, there were 518 reported deaths, but by 2019, that number had soared to 10,292—a figure equivalent to the annual deaths resulting from drunk driving incidents (Northwestern Median).
Tragically, nearly 80,000 individuals aged 55 to 80 lost their lives to opioid overdoses in the span of 20 years, with almost half of those fatalities occurring among people aged 55 to 64 (Northwestern Median).
The Vulnerability of Senior Citizens: Unveiling the Truth
The average age of seniors who succumb to fentanyl-related incidents is around 60, highlighting the vulnerability of this age group to the perils of fentanyl abuse (Washington Post). Additionally, among women aged 75 and above, non-Hispanic white women face the highest rates of drug overdoses, necessitating targeted interventions and support for this specific demographic (CDC).
Concerning disparities also exist among older men, particularly those aged 65-74 and 75 and over, with non-Hispanic Black men experiencing higher rates of drug overdose deaths (CDC).
Moreover, considering the growing trend of medical tourism along the West Coast, a significant number of senior citizens opt for medical tour buses to travel to Mexico in order to obtain their medications. This is primarily due to the substantial cost difference of up to 80 percent and the absence of a requirement for a doctor’s prescription. Shockingly, an investigation conducted by the LA Times revealed that several physical pharmacies located along the Baja Peninsula in Mexico are distributing pharmaceuticals that have tested positive for fentanyl — 50 percent. It is concerning that these tour companies may be unaware of the inherent risks of addiction and the potentially lethal consequences for seniors who cross the border in search of affordable medication.
The Urgent Need for Awareness and Prevention
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of adults aged 65 and older who died from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids rose by 53%, signifying the pressing need for awareness and prevention efforts (CDC).
Fentanyl overdoses among seniors can occur due to various reasons. Some may unknowingly attempt to manage chronic pain using counterfeit pills, while others might accidentally misuse legitimate medications or deliberately turn to fentanyl or counterfeit drugs for end-of-life purposes.
The Complexities of Senior Care and Mitigating Risks
Healthcare providers must prioritize screening older individuals for drug misuse, as seniors often go undiagnosed due to stereotypes that fail to align with their unique situations.
Seniors face additional risks due to increased tolerance to fentanyl and potential drug interactions resulting from multiple medications they may be taking.
Furthermore, cognitive decline among seniors can contribute to fentanyl overdoses, as memory lapses may lead to unintentional double or multiple doses.
Breaking Barriers and Seeking Solutions
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding addiction prevents many seniors from disclosing their substance abuse issues to doctors, thereby hindering their path to recovery.
The alarming rise in fentanyl misuse among senior citizens demands our attention and support. By raising awareness, promoting proper medication management, and fostering a compassionate environment, we can address this pressing issue effectively. Remember to reach out to healthcare professionals, loved ones, or helpline services if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse.
Together, let us work towards finding a solution.
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