Prescription Drug Abuse Increases Among 50+ Group

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    NEWSLETTERS

    More seniors are becoming addicted to prescription psychoactive medications, such as pain killers and anti-anxiety drugs, and in some cases, what appears to be dementia could actually be drug addiction. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 6 on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

    Prescription drug abuse among people over 50 years of age has increased by nearly 46 percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    One addict who spoke to NBC4 cautioned others against anti-anxiety medications.

    John, who asked to go only by his first name, is a senior dealing with addiction. He has taken Xanax for 10 years.

    "I finally found a site on the Internet where I could get them, and that's when I started taking six to eight per day," John said.

    John said he lost his family, job and financial stability because of his addiction.

    "...You're all happy until you realize you're addicted and it's too late."

    John, now living with his sister, has been clean for five weeks. He still deals with his addiction and experiences tremors and nervousness.

    “I’m sure the pharmacist asked me if I had any questions about this drug, and I’m sure I said no,” John said. “Had I said yes, what are the consequences, maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you today.”

    Dr. Bruce’s advice: Ask about side effects and dangers. When it comes to anxiety and pain drugs, realize that taking it too often causes you to build up tolerance. Take them rarely if possible. If you or someone you know has memory problems or other symptoms, know that it could be the drugs and seek help.

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