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Prescription Misuse and Suicide in the Elderly


In October of 2018, the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published an article titled, Prescription opioid and benzodiazepine misuse is associated with suicidal ideation in older adults. The article caught my attention because my belief is that the elderly community is far too often forgotten yet subjected to much broader concerns in terms of mental health. Suicide has been an ongoing problem among Americans, I encourage you to look up the statistic on suicide mortality according to the CDC for the last decade. This article sheds light on another hidden secret, our senior citizens are capable of the misuse of prescription medications, in fact this study shows that across America the issue is not limited to prescriptions. Consequently, the misuse of prescription medications, particularly benzodiazepine and opioids are linked to suicide ideality. They conducted research on the correlation between prescription drugs and suicide ideation among the elderly, which had never been done before. The data came from a 2015 to 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health which was collected from adults across America, aging from the range of 50 years old and up.


Most who have misused prescription drugs know that addiction does not discriminate, regardless of how young or old, neither does thoughts of suicide. This article recognizes that misuse plays a factor when the abuser is an older adult. Having this awareness is important for all healthcare officials in the field of prescribing medications or those of us who are combating the problem associated with misuse. The study reported, “25.4% of those who misused both medication classes endorsed such suicidality” (Schepis, Simoni-Wastila, & McCabe, 2018). The outcome of the research shows a connection between prescription misuse and suicide in the elderly, therefore, preventative measures such as an ongoing psych evaluation should be a priority when prescribing medications.


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