Nursing Home Substance Abuse

There is a common misconception that substance abuse is not a factor among people who are elderly or disabled. The fact is, nursing home substance abuse is a very real consideration, and one that is gaining increasing attention. Many nursing homes fail to address issues like substance abuse when they admit residents or create care plans. What’s more, some nursing homes fail to realize the importance of proper care and maintenance for these individuals, which can result in neglect or abuse.

Nursing Home Negligence and Substance Abuse Example

Consider, for example, a story that hit the media in September 2016 after a 43-year-old nursing home resident died from a Fentanyl overdose after being released from a Massachusetts nursing home. The man’s death came after seven months living in a nursing home following amputation of his left leg. According to his family, the recovering heroin addict had been given increasing doses of opioid medication while at the nursing home, and was not being provided substance abuse counseling.

Substance Abuse Across the Ages

Substance abuse touches every demographic, including elderly, disabled, and injured people. These individuals have the right to as much care and treatment as anyone else – a right which many believe is not being upheld. Cases like the one mentioned above are causing researchers and lawmakers to reassess what is being done to help individuals with substance abuse when they are living in nursing homes.

In July 2015, researchers at the federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) discovered that millions of Americans are prescribed opioids through Medicare every year after age 65 – opioids that are commonly abused in the U.S. In fact, the OIG estimated that as many as one-third of all Medicare recipients had a prescription for opioids in 2015. Consider the following statistics about substance abuse among older Americans:

Importance of Substance Abuse Treatment in Nursing Homes

Substance abuse treatment is a serious concern for nursing homes all across the U.S. Between 2010 and 2030, the population of Americans over 65 is estimated to rise to 72.1 million. As the “baby boomer” demographic considers long-term care, nursing homes, and Medicare benefits, it is more important than ever that nursing homes prepare for managing the population who will, undoubtedly, include individuals who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Unfortunately, most nursing homes are ill-prepared for such residents, or because they are unsure of federal regulations, they simply deny individuals with substance abuse problems. Then there are cases of nursing home negligence where the nursing home simply fails to uphold its legal and ethical obligations. So what are families to do when they need additional support?

Support for Families Touched by Substance Abuse

If you are looking for a nursing home for an elderly loved one, and you know that he or she is battling addiction or substance abuse, you may be lost at where to begin. No one wants to consider that nursing home negligence or abuse could touch their lives, but it is a very real concern. How do you filter through the numerous possibilities, screen potential caregivers, and ensure that your loved one is getting the care he or she deserves? Here are some helpful tips that may help you answer these questions, feel more confident about your search, and get you the help you need: