Seniors at risk of accidental drug abuse

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COLUMBIA - Recovery advocates rallied at the Capitol Tuesday to raise awareness for recovery from substance use disorders. 

The Missouri Recovery Network talked to state representatives and senators about drug abuse and recovery.

The organization said drug abuse affects more than one specific group.

A new study shows nearly one-fifth of seniors who take five or more prescription medications experience challenges in medication management.

Debbie Critchfield works for Home Instead Senior Care and said she does not think seniors purposely abuse prescription drugs. 

"I think most of the time what is happening with seniors is more accidental and not meaning to mismanagement because they forgot they took it so they take another one," Critchfield said.

Critchfield said she thinks memory loss causes accidental abuse.

"A senior will forget they've taken their medicine and take a double dose of their medicine," Critchfield said.

Critchfield said Home Instead Senior Care offers families a public education program called Let's Talk About RxSM. The program offers families free resources and tips, as well as insight into potential medication pitfalls facing seniors.

The executive director for the Missouri Recovery Network, Brenda Schell, said it is important to educate the young and old about prescription abuse.

Schell said Senator Claire McCaskill visited Jefferson City a couple weeks ago to address the prescription drug monitoring program.

"Missouri is the only state out of 50 states that does not have it," Schell said. "She was talking about the elderly as well, and that population, and how we need to look at that because addiction knows no bounds."

Schell said people should recognize drug abuse just like any other chronic illness.

"As we would cancer or hypertension," Schell said. "You can't treat this chronic illness acutely. You need recover supports to help individuals just as any cancer patient would receive."