SAN ANTONIO -- Senior citizens are developing a new addiction as older Americans are increasingly abusing prescription drugs. KENS 5 media partner USA Today reports the number of seniors, 65 and over, who have misused pain relievers has more than doubled since 2002.

One reason for the spike in abuse with seniors could be the fact that no other age group is prescribed drugs as much as seniors. Locally, there are groups on the front lines trying to raise awareness to this problem and KENS 5 followed one those groups Thursday.

Prescription drugs among the elderly community is not uncommon, but abuse of these drugs has increased leading to more addiction, emergency room visits and worst of all, overdose deaths.

The San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, or SACADA, is familiar with the problem. The group allowed KENS 5 to watch a presentation it was giving to seniors living at the Roseville Apartment Complex on the east side.

Because of the availability we have a problem with prescription drug abuse, in fact, it s 200 percent more than what it was 10 years ago, said Gyna Juarez of SACADA.

Officials said the most commonly abused drugs among seniors are pain killers and anti-depressants.
Thursday, SACADA was letting seniors know there are resources out there to get help and to educate them on the signs of possible drug abuse.

Even when the pain goes away there s like a psychological mentality that they need to take those medications for the fear that they ll come off not realizing that they are addicted to those meds, said Juarez.

Due to their age seniors are more susceptible to complications when overusing prescription drugs. From 2007 to 2011 emergency room visits spiked more 50 percent for people over 65.

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