Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

It’s Not Just The Kids That Are Hit Hard By America’s Opioid Crisis; Abuse Among Seniors Runs Rampant, says AMAC

opioid-pills-abuseWASHINGTON, DC – The focus of the opioid crisis in the U.S. is on younger victims. But, according to senior advocate Dan Weber “the substance abuse epidemic is having a growing impact on older Americans, the fastest growing segment of the population.”

The president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] says that there is substantial research showing that addiction to alcohol and prescription and illicit among senior citizens has gone unnoticed for too long.

Weber called a report by the Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Department published in 2017 a wakeup call.  The report revealed that

“in 2016, one out of every three beneficiaries received a prescription opioid through Medicare Part D. Half a million of them received high amounts of opioids—an average daily MED of 120 mg for at least 3 months of the year. Even more concerning, almost 90,000 beneficiaries are at serious risk of misuse or overdose. These include beneficiaries who received extreme amounts of opioids—more than two and a half times the level that CDC recommends avoiding— for the entire year. They also include beneficiaries who appeared to be doctor shopping (i.e., received high amounts of opioids and had multiple prescribers and pharmacies).”

The AMAC chief called opioid abuse among elderly users “a crisis within a crisis” that needs immediate attention.  “Physicians need to take the lead and begin offering counseling to older patients at risk of addiction.  They also need to offer to prescribe opioid alternatives when treating patients suffering from chronic pain.”

Here’s the way it works.  Chronic pain is widespread among the country’s 50-plus population and one of the easiest and most effective ways of treating pain can involve the use of opioids.  The danger is in the fact that legitimately prescribed opioid pain killers can become addictive and, ultimately, can lead to transitioning to illicit drugs.

And, Weber points out, that the result is that seniors are not only the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, they are also one of the fastest growing populations with diagnosed opioid use disorders.

Pharmacist Kathleen Cameron is also Senior Director of the National Council on Aging.  In a recent article published on the PainAgainstPain Web site she reported that a survey of 200 organizations serving seniors “found that 81% of those organizations agree their clients have little knowledge of safe and affordable alternatives to opioids.  NCOA research also uncovered that while 70% of these organizations have had to increase their efforts to address the opioid epidemic, less than 28% routinely screen vulnerable aging clients for opioid abuse or dependency.  NCOA believes resources need to be invested in educating our aging population and those who serve older adults, in order to reach those at-risk before they become dependent on opioids.”


The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] [https://www.amac.us], with 2 million members, is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members.  We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.  Live long and make a difference by joining us today at https://amac.us/join-amac.

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1 year ago

Just like gun laws only penalize law-abiding citizens, the assault on opioids will only hurt people who really need them for pain management. Please be careful what you advocate for. You undoubtedly have many of those people in your membership.

Larry Dever
1 year ago

If any person misuses drugs ,no other person or government can stop them !!!!!!!! stop harassing the whole country for a few
IDIOTS !!!!!!!!! YOU slow down I am a FREE AMERICAN !!!!!

1 year ago

The difference is that most seniors have REAL pain management problems and the Tylenol#3 just does not do the trick. I have taken them all and never have I become addicted, and I am 71…but, they do stop my pain and when you have sciatica the pain is sometimes unbearable….and Tylenol can destroy your liver and kidneys.

Lynn V
1 year ago

I am regularly prescribed muscle relaxers as I get excruciating muscle spasms due to a chronic back/sciatica problem. I take them only as needed…not everyday. I am not an addict but they are my only relief of horrific spasms that leave me in tears. I see my doctor regularly & he knows that I only take them on a needed basis. Stop putting all of us in some sort of terrible pain in one category. We are not all drug addicts & should NEVER have to suffer for those who willingly abuse their medicatiin.

Susan Smythe
1 year ago

I agree that putting all opioid users under one umbrella is ridiculous. Seniors have more pain. Dah. I have MS and whole spine scoliosis—let even one of the brainless statistics persons try dealing with that everyday and see how long they last without something to, at the very least, make the pain tolerable. I’m 67 and have been on opioids for years. I too, as other commenters, am not addicted. I take the same amount at the the same time each day and I for one thank God that I can get that little bit of relief in order to… Read more »

Greg Taylor
1 year ago

I understand the above but disagree with the percentages from Opioids. As we aged most of us get very painful conditions that REQUIRE the use of an Opioid. Due to cut backs in the way in which they manufacture them…it has caused us older people to have to take double the amount to get relief. You use to could buy 750 mg hydrocodone with a higher mixed of codine in it. Whatever your issues were the larger dosages would help. Today if you can get a 325 mg you are lucky. I know everyone understands the first number normally indicates… Read more »

1 year ago

I get so tired of hearing the same garbage about opioids. The opioid epidemic originally started with doctors who were told by the Gov. to write as many scripts as they deemed necessary. , because actually there was a plan with certain individuals in gov. who wanted addictions to start with people, then when opioids would become restricted, people would be forced to the streets to buy free flowing heroin and fentanyl which were coming over our borders. Yes, there are people who have abused prescription meds. Just like they abuse alcohol or anything else. BUT!!!!!! Not everyone on an… Read more »

Robin Boyd
1 year ago

As a senior citizen who must continue to do physical labor to afford to live, stronger pain medication is the only way I can get through most days of work. Even though I am on Medicare, my insurance does not cover the dosage of pain medication my doctors feel are appropriate for me. Because of the way government is handling the opioid situation by going after prescription pain relievers, I now must pay out of pocket for pain relief so I can work to afford to pay out of pocket for pain relief. I support the president in most things… Read more »

1 year ago

My name is Debbie and I totally disagree with the CDC and DEA. I have been suffering for 12 years now with RSD/CRPS which causes 24/7 pain in my left foot. RSD left my foot demineralized, on 13th Fx due to misdiagnosis and am on the bare minimum, also 64! How can you force a patient to live with pain which then affects every aspect of my life especially walking! Your all crazy, the REAL EPIDEMIC IS HEROIN WITH FENTYNAL COMING FROM MEXICO AND CHINA AND NEW YOFK!!! What you need to do is round up your drug dealers here… Read more »

Irv C
1 year ago

The assault on opioids is outrageous! I have suffered sciatica for over 50 years and all the so called non Opiod pain killers do nothing except destroy my liver and kidneys. If an adult is in pain it’s evident to a good doctor. Quit pulling the rug out from under our medical professionals and allow them to treat those in pain. I feel if someone is going to abuse ANY drug they will find it. Just like outlawing guns gives only outlaws guns well sonit is with drugs. This government is far too involved in our personal lives. It won’t… Read more »

Gloria Rognlie
1 year ago

I am 79 years old and recently suffered serious back problems. After a hospital stay of two days and two and a half weeks in rehab, another in home rehab, the only relief I had was medication (not opioids) which only lasted a short time and the pain was back but according to the pain instructions it was to soon to take more. I have found the solution. I am working with a doctor who has relieved most of my pain and neuropathy without drugs. I am still taking treatments. The problem is that MEDICARE will not pay for the… Read more »

Lynda Davis
1 year ago

CBD is the Answer! It works for pain and does make you lupey. I hit my 3 pen 3 times a day and go to go make it legal everywhere . SF lets people shoot Heroin on the streets and worse how about we call Nancy and her moron son for that It is her District disgusting pooping on the streets. California Governor is causing this crisis he has more illegals, and wants Felons to vote all our taxes go to feeding these people and no infrastructure is being taken care or road work WE NEED YOUR HELP PRESIDENT TRUMP… Read more »

1 year ago

I’m 62 and have been talking opioids since 2004. I’m a maintenance tech. in a manufacturing plant and have doing this kind of work for 42 years. I have chronic pain in my joints. My ankle and shoulder have no cartledge and is bone on bone. I’ve tried all kinds of pain relief and opioids are the best. I would not be able to work with out them. I should be able to retire if only I could get descent amount of money from social security, but that is a whole other can of worms

Patricia Gutierrez
1 year ago

The problem with the article is that some seniors (I was struck, and ended under a bus … and was practically immobile in intensive care for 5 weeks, and then 3 months of nursing home with PT). I was given percocet 2 pills every 4 hours as needed during this time. I esp. needed it in order to have the PT (even though couldn’t walk could do some PT) during this time. As soon as I was able to walk (all four limbs were broken, plus pelvic, sacrum, ribs …) I was able to leave the percocet “cold turkey.” …… Read more »

Jim Benzing
1 year ago

I have been taking an opioid (Percocet) for the past 5 years. I live with an average of 28 days per month with headaches. Typically, on 8 of those days it is a disabling migraine. I have been on many differrent Rx’s, OTC med’s, have had Botox, and facet blocks, none of which have had any effect on the migraines. There are a couple of new medicines (eg. Aimovig), but they cost hundreds of dollars per month and my insurance does not cover it. Percocet has been the only abortive that has helped. Knowing it is an opioid I’ve been… Read more »

carol kisilewicz
1 year ago

I know several elderly that are no longer to enjoy life or even take care of themself or leave their house..due to the pain they are in, and cannot get relief , Pain management centers do not treat them with any respect, their pain is NOT MANGED, it is handled like they are junkies,,,, urine testing , long waits, threats of being removed and no longer able to get meds if they come up one pill short ect……. this is not fair to the elderly…….they need help with all the pain , someone to really look at them and see… Read more »

Karen Alvarez
1 year ago

I find it so sad and frankly maddening to think now they’ll start with the elderly regarding the use of pain medication! I feel for the do gooders who decide other’s fate in raising this question because there will come a day when they to may need medication to have any quality of life! Don’t you think they would like to live medication free and be able to do everyday things and enjoy their families, chores etc in their last year’s of life?? Unfortunately there are many of who by No Choice of their own have to live with pain… Read more »

Ken Metcalfe
1 year ago

Unfortunately the rule of unintended consequences applies here as well. Seniors who tolerate and need these drugs are being weaned off them by misguided Doctors and Assistants. They are well meaning and care for their patients, but are following guidelines that are set for everyone, irregardless of their situation. I am 76 and have chronic pain from surgeries, and the life I’ve led (veteran, serious auto accident, logger, aircraft refueler) all physically demanding and debilitating events which have left my body with chronic issues which are best served by pain medication. Now I still have pain with no relief. What… Read more »

Royal DeArvil
1 year ago

Seniors who live with serious Chronic Pain are thrown into the same apple barrel with everyone else. I live with serious chronic nerve pain every minute of every day since a car accident April 12, 2006. It took 6 years to finally come up with a pain med cocktail that worked. The cocktail included a Fentynal Pain Patch. The Pain Patch was taken away from me by government regulations. Then, the limitations on all pain meds became so limiting that we (my pain specialist doctors and personal family physician, and I) have spent the last 10 months working to find… Read more »

BJ Jenke
1 year ago

The Amac SHOULD STOP SPREADING the MYTH of drug addiction of senior citizens. Opioids are being taken away or being reduced because of those who do not believe that opioids work. Do not look at numbers on a piece of paper to determine that a person is on too high of a dosage. These providers should talk to the patient, exam the patient, and ask if the pain medication is working or not, first. Only people who have the genetic disposition for addiction will become addicts, and that will be known within weeks of being on opioids. Seniors have many… Read more »

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