The opioid crisis is affecting nearly everyone in America – according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death, and an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States experiencing substance use disorders relating to painkillers. Some are becoming hooked from the prescriptions they needed for an injury, many people are becoming addicted by taking medications their friend or family member gave them, and yet more people are actively seeking and buying painkillers off the street. A growing number of reports are showing that senior citizens are contributing to this distribution of medications, and here’s how:
CBS New York covered the story of an 85-year-old woman who sold prescription pills to an undercover police officer. Although the woman stated she was trying to “help someone”, she was arrested on drug dealing charges and became the oldest person in her county to be arrested. Steve Chassman, part of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explained his opinion on the matter:
“It’s not uncommon to see people 55 and older, who receive monthly medications, selling some on the street or to people they know…a 30 milligram of oxycodone can go for $30 and if you get a 90-day supply, do the math. That’s significant.”
This rise in senior citizens selling medication is something the United States hasn’t really seen before – some physicians are beginning to drug test their patients to ensure they are taking the right prescribed medication. This epidemic is contributing to the opioid crisis in a significant way, because it’s a new population that is emerging in the drug dealing world. Unfortunately, it seems most of what is happening is simply a continuation of what these peoples’ families have already been doing. Dan Smoot, a former state police drug detective, stated on CBS News:
“Most of the elderly we arrest are merely continuing a family tradition. It has been a part of their culture for a long time.”
Police are working to catch more and more of these individuals as they continue to have easy access to prescription drugs.
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