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Drug overdose deaths amongst seniors have greater than tripled in 2 many years

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Deaths from drug and alcohol use are rising amongst America’s seniors.

Drug overdose deaths greater than tripled amongst people age 65 and older throughout the past 20 years while deaths from alcohol abuse increased greater than 18% from 2019 to 2020, in keeping with data published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Greater than 800,000 seniors suffered from drug addiction and a couple of.7 million suffered from alcohol addiction in 2020, in keeping with separate data from the Health and Human Services Department.

In total, greater than 5,000 seniors died of drug overdoses in 2020 and greater than 11,600 succumbed to alcohol, in keeping with the NCHS data. Though drug overdose death rates are lower for seniors than other age groups, they’ve increased substantially from 2.4 per 100,000 in 2000 to eight.8 per 100,000 in 2020.

“We have a public health problem coming at our door — these trends have been increasing for a very long time now,” said Alexis Kuerbis, a professor on the Silberman School of Social Work and an authority on substance use amongst older adults.

Seniors today are baby boomers, a generation that had a way more open attitude toward drugs and alcohol than their parents, Kuerbis said. Some baby boomers have carried alcohol and drug habits from their youth and middle age into their later years when their bodies aren’t any longer in a position to tolerate them, she said.

“Baby boomers obviously are very different generation than the silent generation or the World War II generation,” Kuerbis said. “Baby boomers were way more open to using alcohol and medicines during their younger years but in addition through their middle-aged years and now they’re older adults,” she said.

Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased 53% amongst seniors from 2019 to 2020, in keeping with the information. Kuerbis said there’s some evidence to suggest individuals who were prescribed opioids of their middle age for an injury later switched to fentanyl once it became harder to get a prescription.

If you happen to are having suicidal thoughts or are in distress, contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor.

While some drug deaths amongst seniors are from accidental misuse of medication, many are suicides from overdosing on opioids, Kuerbis said. Although seniors are inclined to be happier than younger adults, additionally they have the next prevalence of chronic pain, terminal illness and dementia, she said.

Some older adults also use drugs or alcohol to deal with major life changes similar to retirement, grief and loss, or a change of their living situation, in keeping with the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Drug overdose deaths were highest amongst Black seniors. The death rate from drugs amongst Black men ages 65 to 74 was greater than 4 times higher than Hispanic or white men in that age group, in keeping with the information. Black women ages 65 to 74 died more often from drug overdoses than white and Hispanic women. White women older than 75 had the next death rate from drugs than Black and Hispanic women.

Alcohol deaths were highest amongst American Indian seniors followed by Hispanics, white Americans, Black Americans and Asian Americans, in keeping with the information.

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