Aging Issues in Addiction Recovery
By the time many people reach an advanced age, they begin taking prescription medication. It’s now common even for people in their thirties to be on several prescription drugs, which often are added to throughout the years. This leads to the view that taking highly addictive prescription drugs (including opioids) is simply another part of a normal daily routine for the aging population.
If you are in chronic pain, it may be tempting to turn to addictive substances (including prescription pain medications) for relief. You must understand, though, that painkillers are not going to give you your life back. There is, however, a way to find natural pain relief and live out the rest of your days in a fulfilling way. It may take more work, but it’s far more rewarding.
Opioids: A Short-Term Solution for Pain
Opioids and other addictive prescription drugs are used to treat pain, but they come with many severe drawbacks – including a high risk of death from overdose. In 2016, the United States saw seventy-eight deaths per day due to drug overdose, two-thirds of which were from opioids. Many of these deaths took place among the elderly population. This is hardly surprising, as the number of elderly people who had been prescribed opioids in the years prior had increased by more than nine times. This is the opioid epidemic, and it rages on today.
Part of the problem is that opioids should only be prescribed for short-term use—three to seven days at the most. Due to their addictive nature and the fact that many people over the age of fifty experience chronic, long-term pain, however, there is a high tendency to extend their use as a long-term solution. Using opioids for extended periods is not sustainable, not only due to the risk of overdose and death, but also due to the complications and many negative side effects, including depression and confusion. Mortality risk increases when opioids are combined with other drugs or alcohol, which the patient might do unwittingly.
The bottom line is that opioids are not a viable long-term solution. However, this doesn’t change the fact that many people are using and abusing them as such, with the end result being that they are losing their lives to opioids. Again, this unfortunate reality is especially prominent among older individuals. Sadly, with addiction, they will continue using, and they are likely not able to stop on their own. They may not even want to if they believe the only alternative is to live with pain.
A Healthy Lifestyle Keeps You Feeling Good Naturally
Treating addiction and experiencing long-term recovery requires a two-fold approach: first, successfully withdrawing the person from the drug use and detoxing the drug out of the body. Secondly, creating healthy ways to manage and reduce chronic pain so that the person is less likely to feel that they need to reach for a pain-killing drug in the first place.
It’s a popular misconception that the goal of a healthy lifestyle is to live a longer life. However, living longer isn’t nearly as important as living fully, making the best use of the time you have, however long it may be. Many people think that with old age comes pain, disease, and degeneration. Truly, though, spending the final years of your life feeling awful and sedated in bed is avoidable. With a healthy lifestyle, you can be gardening and playing with your grandchildren well into your nineties.
Eating healthy and staying active are key components of aging well. Avoid eating processed foods, especially those that contain the appropriately named AGEs. These are highly refined foods like potato chips that rapidly cause disease and degeneration in the body. Instead, eat lots of fresh, whole foods, and bring superfoods into the mix as well. The high-powered nutrients of superfoods like Reishi mushrooms or açai berries, for example, can do wonders when it comes to keeping the body and mind vital through the years.
It’s Never Too Late to Start Something New
As people get on in years, they may feel as though it’s too late to do anything to change their situation. They even feel they should accept that what they have is as good as it’s going to get, especially if they are dealing with pain or disease.
That line of thinking simply is not true. Not only can you begin a healthy diet and exercise regimen that can create a remarkable turnaround in your health at almost any age, but with your newfound health and vitality, you can go on to start a business, study for a new college degree, pick up a new hobby, or tackle a much-need home renovation project. These are all things that people in their seventies and beyond usually are capable of doing, and in fact, that some do regularly.
Turning to addictive substances as a way to cope by numbing yourself will prevent you from living your best life. No matter how old you are, by embracing a healthier, more natural lifestyle, you can live more fully each and every day. You and the years you have left are worth the effort!
If you or a loved one is struggling with aging and opioid addiction, it’s imperative that you act now. This is a life-threatening addiction that has claimed the lives of many and continues in epidemic numbers today. You do not have to be a victim: there is pain relief and hope for an active, fulfilling life at every age. Here at Spero Recovery, not only can we refer you to a safe detox center, but we also have long-term recovery support. Our nature space nestled within the mountains inspires healthy living, and we have meditation, yoga, and hiking programs to match. Call us today at (303) 351-7888 to make the rest of your life the best of your life.