Am I Too Old for Methadone Addiction Recovery?

Am I Too Old for Methadone Addiction Recovery?Methadone is a prescription opioid with a long half-life and few euphoric effects. In the medical world, it is primarily used for two purposes. First, methadone is used in opiate-replacement therapies allowing addicts to taper down their physical dependence without feeling the opioid high. Second, a standard dose can effectively treat pain for about 36 hours, which makes it a viable option for people suffering chronic pain or requiring supervised use. Despite its medicinal intent, methadone is addictive, and the body can develop a physical dependence with repeated use. If an addiction takes hold, users should seek help no matter their age.

Age and Drug Abuse

Illicit drug use is not limited to young people. In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) published data on older adults, including the following:

  • 5.2% of adults aged 50 or older reported illicit drug use in the past year
  • 3.6% of adults aged 50 to 59 reported illicit prescription drug use
  • Marijuana is the leading drug for men aged 50 or older, but prescription drugs lead female use
  • The number of older adults with a substance abuse problem is expected to double by 2020

Chronic pain is unfortunately common among many older adults, and such individuals have more access to opioid pain medications like methadone. Likewise, the aging baby-boom generation, which largely drives the escalating drug-use rates among older adults, tends to be more open to drug use than earlier generations.

Reasons for Methadone Abuse among Older Adults

Many methadone addictions occur while using the drug to treat pain or get off other opiates, but there are other possible motivations for nonmedical use, including the following:

  • Self-medicate a mood disorder or physical illness
  • Escape emotional pain caused by loss, isolation or grief
  • Help overcome insomnia, boredom or loneliness
  • Avoid confronting financial and physical limitations

Regardless of the reason for use, methadone has potential side effects that can be problematic for older individuals, including breathing difficulties, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and constipation.

Methadone Statistics

Methadone has become more popular for pain treatment, and this corresponds with an increase in distribution and abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration (SAMHSA) published data on methadone use in 2009, which included the following:

  • Methadone distribution increased between 9% and 22% annually from 2000 to 2007
  • Distribution of the methadone tablet increased by 700% between 1998 and 2006
  • Most methadone addicts also abuse other drugs

In 2010, SAMSHA stated that nearly 300,000 methadone addicts sought treatment in 2008, a number that demonstrates the growth of methadone abuse. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states that methadone makes up 2% of all opioid prescriptions but 30% of the overdose deaths.

Methadone Abuse Rehabilitation at Any Age

Age should never be a deterrent to treatment. Rehabilitation centers can cater to older patients while providing a variety of possible services, including the following:

  • Medically supervised detoxification with ongoing efforts to reduce discomfort
  • Integrated diagnosis and treatment for mental health and personality disorders
  • Integrated care for any physical ailments, including chronic pain or disease
  • Counseling to address external and emotional cues that trigger drug cravings
  • Cognitive therapies that improve mental activity associated with behavior
  • Group therapy to express ideas and discuss healthier coping mechanisms

Elderly patients sometimes require greater assistance and care, especially if they have problems walking, but specialty programs exist that can cater to their specific needs.

Methadone Recovery Helpline

Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss treatment, facilities and programs, and if the prospective patient has health insurance, we can check the policy for rehabilitation benefits. Our helpline is toll free so please call now.