Drug abuse is a global concern and the ill effects of its influence are preying on all age categories. The addiction that ties people around drugs can even take their lives when there is an overdose. Overdose death rates have increased in numbers among ages 65 and older in the US. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) says, in America, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses in seniors has nearly tripled in the last two decades.

The data

The number of seniors addicted to alcohol abuse has also increased over time with an increase in the death rate. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 5,000 deaths among American seniors due to drug overdose in 2020. It was more than double the number of deaths- 11,616 due to alcohol-included causes. The statistics also show an increase in the death rates from alcohol. 

Fentanyl and synthetic opioids are also said to have a lot of impact on seniors. The overdose death rate has increased by 53% from 2019 to 2020 among the older population, per NCHS. The number of deaths is increasing among older men than the older female population, says the data.

The Human and Health Service Department’s data states nearly 800,000 were into drug addiction and 2.7 million of them into alcohol addiction in 2020. Drug overdose deaths in 2022 are not getting any lesser.

How does overdosing happen?

The overdose of these drugs is sometimes accidental when they consume more than what the body could process. The elders opt for opioids as a suicidal choice. Any chronic illness or pain they might experience can also be a reason for them to choose these opioids, hoping for some relief. 

What happens?

According to the World Health Organization, the consumption of opioids has an impact on the part of the brain which regulates breathing. The overdose has an impact on the body with symptoms like:

Pinpoint pupils

The pupil in a person’s eyes will shrink in size due to the stimulation of the central nervous system. The drug that impacts the individual’s brain will have a heavier effect with the overdose. 


Since the central nervous system and the brain has an interruption in their regular functions and responses. The brain’s command to respond will fade in efficiency, leaving the person unconscious. The brain of an older person experiences this due to the other conditions they might have and the slowed metabolism.

Difficulties with breathing

The gaseous exchange in the lungs will be affected, eventually leading to difficulty breathing. Due to disturbance in the function of the central nervous system, the entire body and its performance will be affected.

All these effects can be intense or immediate in some cases for seniors due to existing conditions or deceleration in the body functioning. It is common when a human’s body starts growing older.

This blog hopes to bring awareness to drug overdose, and overdose death rates which have increased among the older population. Please visit your healthcare provider immediately if you are suffering from any addictions, and seek help before it can get out of control.