Opioid Abuse Among Older Americans has Doubled

Opioid Abuse Among Older Americans has Doubled
A new report reveals that opioid abuse among older Americans (aged 50 or older) doubled from 2002 to 2014, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Opioid abuse involves the misuse of heroin and any other illegal opiate, as well as the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone, (Oxycontin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicoprofen).
According to results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 9.5 million American adults abused opioids in the past year. More specifically, about two percent of adults aged 50 or older, and 8.1 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 25) abused opioids in the past year.

The same report does indicate some positive news. It reveals that opioid misuse has fallen among younger Americans, from 11.5 percent in 2002 to eight percent in 2014. Nonetheless, the fact still remains that opoid abuse among older Americans increased from 1.1 percent in 2002 to 2.0 percent in 2014. According to SAMHSA, the nonmedical use of prescription painkillers among older adults can lead to negative health consequences, including traffic accidents, falls, and hip fracture.

The high rates of comorbid illnesses in older populations and the potential for drug interactions has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to misuse opioids. These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages, as well as to establish improved evidence-based treatment, screening and appropriate referral services.Dr. Kimberly Johnson, director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

The Impact of Opioid Abuse Across the United States

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015:

  • 12.5 million people in the U.S. misused prescription opioid medications.
  • 2.1 million of those people abused prescription opioids for the first time.
  • Two million people had a prescription use disorder in 2015.
  • 828,000 people in the U.S. used heroin, and 135,000 Americans used it for the first time.
  • 33, 091 people died as a result of an opioid overdose  – over half those deaths were attributed to prescription opioids.
  • 9,580 people died from a synthetic opioid overdose.
  • 12,989 people died from a heroin overdose.

Solutions for Reducing Opioid Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified five strategies to address the opioid crisis in the U.S., including:

  1. The first involves improving access to treatment and addiction recovery services, including a full range of medication-assisted treatment.
  2. Promoting the availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs, such as naxolone.
  3. Improving understanding of the epidemic through better reporting and public health data.
  4. Providing support for new and innovative research on pain and addiction.
  5. Creating and improving practices for pain management.

Get Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Without the help of qualified addictio professionals, it can be nearly impossible to stop the use of heroin and prescription painkillers. These drugs are so addictive that many people struggle for years to get clean. Fortuntaly, there is hope. At Get Treatment, we are dedicated to helping individuals and their families find their path to lasting recovery. We can help you find a top-rated and licensed opioid addiction treatment center that provides individualized treatment programs that address the underlying causes of addiction and give you the tools to lead a healthier and happier life.

To learn more about how to get treatment for opioid addiction, call 855-638-9268, and speak to a caring admissions specialist today.



Erica Loret de Mola


Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.


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