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Senior Citizens and Benzos:  Are They at Risk for Addiction?

Many of our senior citizens are taking a cocktail of potent and dangerous drugs daily.  Of course, some of the drugs are necessary for conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis, heart problems, and more.  But, they are also taking a variety of pills for sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.  Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium are being prescribed to senior citizens at an alarming rate.

Problems arise when the person has memory problems and is unable to follow dosing directions properly.  Or, their drugs have adverse interactions. Many of these individuals are at increased risk for falls, broken bones, car accidents, and other dangers.

Older people don’t always ask their doctors about the side effects of taking a variety of prescriptions all in one day.  They often assume that some of the symptoms they’re experiencing are the results of old age.  So, the problems that arise with senior citizens and benzos often go misdiagnosed or overlooked altogether.  In many cases, they are merely given another medication to counteract the symptoms, and the problem continues to worsen.

Dangers of Long-Term Benzo Use by Seniors

Some experts believe that many of the signs of dementia are often the result of the side-effects from the combination of prescription drugs a person is taking.   Memory loss, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, bladder and kidney trouble, appetite issues, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and more are often attributed to advanced age.  But, maybe we need to take a closer look at what else might be happening with these individuals.

As we age, our bodily functions slow down considerably.   In our senior years, we find that it takes a little longer to get over colds or overcome other illnesses.  Our bodies also have a harder time processing any chemicals we might have ingested from food or medications.  With this in mind, we have to wonder how an older person’s body will react to the hundreds of chemicals found in their prescription medications.  This may mean that senior citizens should be given smaller doses of benzos due to their slower metabolism.

How to Address the Issue of Senior Citizens and Benzos

According to JAMA, more than 9% of senior men, and 11% of senior women use benzodiazepines regularly.  The side effects and dangers of benzos are the reason the drugs are on the Beers List for “Potentially Inappropriate Drugs for the Elderly.  Generally, benzos are intended for the short-term use of about four months or less.  Unfortunately, many seniors continue taking and being prescribed the drug for years.

Since benzodiazepines pose a threat for dependency and addiction, physicians should discuss alternative treatment methods for problems such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, or depression.   Especially for those individuals who are already taking a handful of prescription pills daily.

Find Help for Benzos Addiction at A Forever Recovery

If you are concerned that your senior family member has a problem with benzodiazepine abuse or addiction, help is available.  It may require professional treatment such as an inpatient drug rehabilitation program to help your loved one overcome their addiction.  An effective treatment facility is equipped and has the expertise to help a person overcome withdrawal symptoms safely during detox.  The program then provides a curriculum of behavioral modification therapies and skills training to help the person avoid returning to their old habits.

You can find more information about senior citizens and benzos by contacting A Forever Recovery today.  We will be happy to assist you in any way and can help you choose a treatment program that is right for your loved one.

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