Prescription drug addiction among seniors is a very real issue facing many people throughout the United States. Many seniors are prescribed multiple medications for multiple issues, and some of these drugs can be dangerous and addictive.

Addiction and dependence are two different things. When someone starts taking a prescription medication and they become dependent upon the substance, they will experience physical withdrawal symptoms without the substance. Addiction is a psychological disease that plagues many people and makes them use drugs and abuse alcohol time and time again, no matter the consequences. Dependency and addiction are often linked together, and many time a dependence can be a stepping stone to the disease of addiction becoming active.

Whether you are activating an old addiction that you once treated or dealing with a new addiction when you have never before experienced drug or alcohol addiction, being prescribed multiple medications as a senior can be dangerous.

If your loved one is showing any of the following signs, there may be a problem:

  • Depression
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Patterns of behavior that involves alcohol or drugs
  • Drinking alone
  • Ignoring consumption warnings printed on pill bottles’
  • Neglecting personal appearance or personal hygiene

It can be difficult to determine whether or not your loved one has a problem with prescription medications. The best thing you can do is have an open and honest conversation about your loved one’s behaviors, habits, and the substances they are consuming–prescribed or otherwise.

Don’t be afraid to get help. If you are a senior who needs help with addiction or dependency or if you have a loved one who needs help, do not hesitate to contact a rehabilitation facility or a 12-step group such as Narcotics Anonymous. There is no shame in asking for help.