Prescription medication addiction is rife in older people

Older people are at greatest risk of becoming addicted to prescription medication, a new report by Public Health England has found.

This says that for most types of addictive prescription medicines (except opioids), older people prescribed the drug were more likely than younger people to be prescribed it for more than six months.

Data shows that 18.7 per cent of those aged 81 and over who were prescribed z-drugs for conditions including insomnia were prescribed to for more than six months, compared with 5.1 per cent of those prescribed the drug who were 18 to 40-year olds.  

The report calls for improved management, and greater use of data supporting the prescribing of medicines that can cause dependence or withdrawal, in an attempt to identify the scale, distribution and causes of prescription drug dependence, and remedial options.

The review covered adults (aged 18 and over) and five classes of medicines:

  • benzodiazepines  
  • z-drugs  
  • gabapentin and pregabalin  
  • opioids for chronic non-cancer pain
  • antidepressants

Key findings include the following:

  • In 2017 to 2018, 11.5 million adults in England (26 per cent of the adult population) received, and had dispensed, one or more prescriptions  
  • The proportion estimated to have received a prescription continuously from June 2015 for at least 12 months varied from 5 per cent (benzodiazepines) to almost 20 per cent (gabapentinoids)
  • Higher initial opioid doses and prior mental health problems were associated with long-term use of opioids and opioid dependence, respectively. Prescribing opioid pain medicines for longer than 90 days was associated with opioid overdose and dependence
  • Low income and use of shorter-acting benzodiazepines are associated with long-term benzodiazepine use
  • Between 2015 to 2016 and 2017 to 2018 the rate of prescribing for antidepressants increased from 15.8 per cent of the adult population to 16.6 per cent and for gabapentinoids from 2.9 per cent to 3.3 per cent
  • Rates of prescribing were higher for women (1.5 times those of men), and the rates generally increased with age.
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to browse or by clicking "Accept All Cookies" you agree to the storing of first and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Cookie Policy
Cookie Settings
Decline All
Accept All Cookies
By continuing to browse or by clicking "Accept All Cookies" you agree to the storing of first and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Cookie Policy
Cookie Settings
Decline All
Accept All Cookies
Cookie Settings
STAY UPDATED!
Thank you for visiting CHMonline.co.uk, the website for the leading magazine for care home managers, operators and directors. If you would like to receive the digital edition and/or the editor's regular newsletters via email please subscribe here.
Are you a care home staff member or operator?
Terms: Care Home Management (S&A Publishing) may use the information you provide on this form to get in touch with you with relevant industry news and promotions. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us. We will treat your information with respect. For more information please view our privacy policy.
By submitting this form you agree to the terms.
SUBSCRIBE