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Prescription Drug Abuse Among Older Adults Is Harder to Detect

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Drug addiction is not restricted to the young. Donna Weber, now 53, turned to painkillers after undergoing simple surgery. Then a long, tortured path to divorce made her anxious and depressed. Soon, she found herself on a candy¬ colored pill roller coaster.
Unlike street drugs, the pharmaceutical pills were easy to obtain legally. She got them from emergency rooms, dentists, psychiatrists, even plastic surgeons. “I went to doctors with exaggerated truths,” explained Ms. Weber, who once had four doctors. “I said I hurt more and more.” But constant pill popping took a huge toll. A few years ago, she could barely get out of her bedroom. Sometimes she woke up and felt like she couldn’t breathe. Last year, she began contemplating suicide. She finally called an addiction hotline and ended up taking a plane from her home in Colorado to a treatment center in Southern California. “I didn’t think I was addicted,” said Ms. Weber, who is now drug¬free and living in Los Angeles. “But sometimes the pain pills are causing the pain, not the injuries. So you take more. I was naïve.”

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