The face of the nation’s opioid epidemic increasingly is gray and wrinkled. But that face often is overlooked in a crisis that frequently focuses on the young.
Consider this: While opioid abuse declined in younger groups between 2002 and 2014, even sharply among those 18 to 25 years old, the epidemic almost doubled among Americans over age 50, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Because of information like that, the Senate Special Committee on Aging recently held a hearing on opioid misuse by the elderly.
“Older Americans are among those unseen in this epidemic,” said Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), the top Democrat on the panel. “In 2016, one in three people with a Medicare prescription drug plan received an opioid prescription. This puts baby boomers and our oldest generation at great risk.”
Unwittingly, Medicare compounds the epidemic by funding needed opioids that can be abused, but, generally, not funding the care and medicines needed to fight opioid addiction.