Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly | Symptoms

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Why are older adults at risk for prescription drug abuse?

Older adults are at risk for prescription drug abuse because they take more prescription medicines than other age groups. Americans 65 years of age or older make up only 13% of the U.S. population, yet they consume approximately 33% of all prescription drugs.

Older adults are also at risk for prescription drug abuse because they often take more than one prescription medicine each day. This increases the risk for mistakes when taking the medicines and for drug interactions. A drug interaction occurs when two or more drugs react with each other. It could make drugs less effective or cause harmful side effects.

In addition, growing older slows down your liver’s ability to filter medicines out of your body. This means that an older adult might become addicted to or have side effects from a prescription drug at a lower dose than a younger adult.

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Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 10/15
Created: 02/12

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Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly

Overview

Symptoms

Causes & Risk Factors

Treatment