March 31, 2021 – Development of drug use later in life may be connected with prescription of pain relief medication, which poses a risk for misuse if not appropriately administered. Increasing tolerance to opioid analgesics due to use of other substances can also impact on adequacy of pain relief. A lack of health insurance can force older people to obtain substances for pain relief from illicit sources. The widespread prescription of benzodiazepines among older people and the risk of overuse is also a well-known problem. Polypharmacy – the mixing of five or more medications per day, whether obtained by prescription, over the counter or through illicit channels – is an increasing problem among older people. In addition, the ageing process can trigger problems of a psychological, social or physiological nature that can increase the risk of substance use, as well as aggravate pre-existing problems. … As a result of drug use, older people can become more vulnerable to developing health problems, such as respiratory problems, degenerative diseases, liver disease, diabetes and chronic mental health challenges, as well as face a higher risk of falls and road accidents. Drug use among older people is also associated with financial problems, unemployment, homelessness, isolation and loneliness. Stigma associated with drug use may prevent people from seeking care, and thus the problem remains hidden and untreated.



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