Can The Elderly Become Addicted To Prescription Drugs?

nurse explaining prescriptions drugs to elderly man

Can The Elderly Become Addicted To Prescription Drugs?


Prescription Drug Addiction and the elderly seem to be overlooked in our society. My grandmother died of pulmonary fibrosis, however, before this diagnosis, the doctor kept giving her codeine cough syrup and Xanax for her chronic cough. She went misdiagnosed until 8 months before her death. Once her disease had progressed, she was in and out of the emergency room and would not stay more than one night in the hospital. This was because the doctors would not give her Xanax and the cough syrup she was prescribed. She would often tell my mother and her siblings to bring her medicine from home and became upset with them when they listened to the doctors instead of her. I am pretty sure that after 24 hours without Xanax and codeine cough syrup my grandmother was going into withdrawal. Unfortunately, the withdrawal was overlooked by the doctors and just chalked up to an irritable old lady with a terminal illness. I believe this happens more often but continues to go unreported due to the lack of knowledge about the elderly and addiction. My grandmother was not your stereotypical addict but her body became dependent on benzodiazepines and opiates as a result of following her primary doctor’s orders. She displayed addictive behaviors only after tolerance and withdrawal were present. The elderly and addiction seem to be a growing problem whether they have become old in their disease of addiction or developed it later on in their life. As their loved ones, we must stay informed about this issue to protect them.