KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A few dozen senior citizens gathered Tuesday afternoon inside the Kingston Active Adult Center to play bingo and other games. Besides their age bracket, many have something else in common. They are on multiple medications. Charles Emil of Trucksville said he takes 36 pills a day but one pill he won’t take for pain is one that’s at the center of an addiction epidemic — opioids. “That’s why I won’t take them because I don’t want to get addicted.” To address the growing opioid addiction problem across all demographics, The Pennsylvania Medical Society launched a new initiative Tuesday called “Opioids for Pain: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure.”
When it comes to elderly patients, research from Walter Reed Army Medical Center found only 61 percent of prescription medicine is taken correctly. The other 39 percent of seniors are misusing their meds including some when it comes to their pain management. Carolyn Tavella of Plains Township said, “They can’t take the pain and they’re given the medication over and over again and no one thinks gee, they could be drug addicts.” Geisinger Family Medicine Physician Richard Huntington said, “It’s really easy to get put on a medication that will instantly work really well for the pain and feel good every time you take it without really realizing with each successive dose you’re becoming more and more addicted.”
The Pennsylvania Medical Society wants patients and doctors to discuss the goals of the medication to avoid overdosing and addiction. While the initiative calls for patient empowerment and a physicians’ call to action some believe everyone needs to get involved to curb this opioid epidemic. Dr. Huntington said, “It’s time to start talking to seniors. It’s time to talk to parents and grandparents about how your medications are being used and if you’re using them properly and if you even need to be on these anymore at all.”
The Pennsylvania Medical Society recommends seniors and anyone else to ask their doctors seven basic questions before taking pain medication. You can learn about that and much more by clicking here.