One would have thought the opioid crisis would serve as a lesson for organized medicine and its pharmaceutical allies. Overprescribe a class of drugs, and you’re likely to create a public health crisis.
Well sadly – it hasn’t.
In a paper just published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers report physicians are routinely prescribing three or more psychiatric drugs to their elderly patients and are doing so at a rate that has doubled in the last ten years.
You read that correctly – doubled.
Disturbing – right?
Which drugs are physicians aggressively prescribing to seniors? Sleep aids, tranquilizers, and anti-depressants are the most common. Three or more of them at a time.
What’s more – researchers found that 46% of the patients receiving these drugs had not been diagnosed with mood, chronic pain or sleep disorders of any kind.
Why does this dangerous practice, a practice called poly-pharmacy, matter?
First – the data does not take into account the likelihood that these elderly patients are also taking a host of other prescription medications for conditions such as pain, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes and more. Each of those drugs produce a number of troubling side effects on their own.
Now add those drugs together with psychiatric drugs, and you have a potentially toxic cocktail that in most cases will markedly debilitate an older person.
Sadly, even taken alone, each of the psychiatric drugs in question has the potential to cause confusion, memory issues, slurred speech, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, double vision, loss of coordination, and falls in elderly patients.
Add the issues listed above to the addictive quality of many psychiatric drugs, and one has the makings of another public health crisis.
The real question is - why is organized medicine permitting this practice to persist and expand?
If you suddenly notice that an older friend or family member is showing abrupt changes in behavior or evidence of the symptoms listed above – check to see if they have visited their primary care physician recently and whether that primary care physician has added a new drug or drugs to your loved one’s daily routine.
If they have – it may be time to step in and ask the physician in question some very hard questions.
Remember – for virtually every health problem, emotional or physical – there are a variety of treatment options –
many that are drugless
. When it comes to elderly patients – those are often the better choice.
And remember, if you or a loved one is trapped by addiction to drugs and/or alcohol in Connecticut or New Hampshire, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of care is producing rates of recovery that are more that 300% above the national average. To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, visit www.awarerecoverycare.com.