What every baby boomer should know about addiction

It’s hard to avoid the epidemic that has swept our modern world: opioid addiction. And as San Diego freelance writer Trevor McDonald explains, baby boomers might be the most vulnerable generation.

If you made it through your teens and early 20s without suffering from any type of addiction, kudos to you. But you’re not out of the woods just yet. Because of the recent rise in opioid painkiller prescriptions, baby boomers are falling victim to this disease at alarming rates.

Here’s what you should know about prescription pills:

Baby boomers take many prescription pills.

The baby boomer generation is likely to suffer from any number of chronic conditions that raise their demand for addictive painkillers and sleeping pills. In fact, the average man over 50 takes four prescriptions regularly. Pay attention to what your doctor prescribes because it may be dangerously addictive. If you are prescribed an addictive substance, take caution. Use it only when necessary and talk to your doctor if you feel you need the pills regularly.

Your metabolism is slower.

Your body isn’t quite as efficient at metabolizing anything, including prescription drugs, as it once was. A sluggish metabolism means that the pills don’t break down quite as well. This can leave boomers highly susceptible to addiction. You’ve probably noticed that your tolerance for alcohol has also declined. This is also thanks to your slower metabolism.

Previous drug abuse leaves you more exposed.

If you have a history of drug use or abuse, you are more likely to become addicted as a baby boomer. It may start with a prescription to dull pain and progress to expose old habits that led you down the path to addiction in the past.

Addiction is harder to spot.

If you do develop a prescription drug addiction, it may be a while before anyone suspects. This is dangerous because your addiction is only likely to grow stronger as time passes. The signs of addiction often mimic many signs that are associated with aging, such as lack of balance, forgetfulness, and social isolation. If someone does notice these signs, they are likely to write them off as a natural part of aging instead of what they probably are: red flags about addiction.

You may find prescription painkillers or sleep aids to be necessary, but remember that they can be quite dangerous. Before you take an addictive substance, always look for non-addictive alternatives.

And if you do develop a problem, get help immediately. Addiction is especially dangerous for baby boomers. There are still many good years ahead, so don’t waste them with addiction. Your family and friends need you here.

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