WXXI AM News

WATCH: The opioid epidemic is affecting older people

Oct 21, 2018

The origin of the opioid epidemic can be traced back to a number of causes including increased marketing of opioids by pharmaceutical companies and overprescribing by physicians, to name a few. Regardless of how it started, we are now in the middle of a public health crisis, affecting people of all races, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ages. The last being the focus of this edition of Need to Know.

So often we hear about people between the ages of 18 to 25 or 35-years-old battling addiction. But the opioid epidemic has almost doubled for Americans over the age of 50. That’s according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Bringing this hidden problem into the light is one of the reasons Angela Lana of Irondequoit shared her story with us. Angela says addiction does not discriminate and that those dealing with this struggle are not junkies as they’re often labeled, but someone’s child, or someone’s husband, wife,  mother, or father.

People over the age of 50 in Monroe County are the fastest-growing age group for opioid-related deaths - up almost 400 percent between 2014 and 2017. That being said, why is geriatric addiction so often kept behind closed doors? What do we need to understand about this problem in an effort to help and meet the needs of our friends, family members, and loved ones battling this issue?