Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs Among Middle-Aged Adults

Middle-Aged man struggling with Prescription Drugs

Many middle-aged adults face unique life changes, challenges, and stressors that can trigger or influence prescription drug abuse, particularly for those who already have access to prescription medications.

This includes but is not limited to children leaving the household, career changes, retirement, death of family members or friends, relationship changes, divorce, and more.

For a middle-aged adult who may already be susceptible to addictive behaviors and habits, abuse of prescription medications can develop in an attempt to manage, control, or cope with overwhelming circumstances.

Common Types of Prescription Drugs Used Among Middle-Aged Adults

National surveys have indicated an increase in the overall use of prescription medications among middle-aged adults living in the United States, as well as an increase in polypharmacy, or the use of more than five prescription medications at once.

Closeup on medical doctor woman writing in clipboard

Some of the most common types of prescription medications used among middle aged adults include anti-anxiety and insomnia medications, opioid based pain-relievers and antidepressants.

A 2014 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identified an increase in emergency department visits involving drug-related suicide attempts among individuals between the ages of 45 to 64 [1].

The majority of all drug-related emergency department visits involved prescription medications, most commonly anti-anxiety and insomnia medications, antidepressants, and pain relievers. In addition, middle-aged adults may be more likely to combine prescription medications with other substances, such as alcohol, which can increase the problematic side effects experienced and likelihood of drug misuse.

Identifying Abuse of Prescription Drugs Among Middle-Aged Adults

The reality is that prescription drug abuse can occur at any age, and middle-aged adults can be susceptible to abusing prescription drugs when triggered by environmental stressors. Identifying early warning signs of prescription drug abuse may be helpful with treatment and prevention.

If you suspect that someone you care for is dealing with prescription drug abuse, consider approaching your loved one and expressing your concerns about their habits and behaviors.

Addiction Hope also has a treatment locator that can help your loved one connect to an addiction specialist, which is necessary for finding recovery from prescription drug abuse.


[1]: “Emergency Department Visits for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts Among Middle-Aged Adults Aged 45 to 64.”, The DAWN Report

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About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 14, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.