A report by Canadian researchers finds narcotics addiction is a major problem with seniors and has advice on how to deal with it..A report by six authors for the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) at Toronto Metropolitan University said the rise of opioid deaths in Canada spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it the “twindemic.”.However, seniors were left “out of sight and out of mind” and “left out of the conversation” of opioid addiction..“Older Canadians have been failed across the board with respect to responses, research, policy and guidelines aimed at curbing the opioid crisis in Canada,” the authors wrote..Because the elderly are more likely to have chronic pain, they are also more likely to be prescribed opioids..“While current perceptions of the opioid crisis tend to focus on younger adults consuming non-prescribed opioids and experiencing high rates of overdose, many people are unaware that older Canadians actually bear the largest burden from opioids,” the authors contended..“Compared to all other age groups, older adults have the highest rate of prescription opioid consumption, as well as the highest rates of side effects, overdoses and mortality associated with prescription opioids.”.Researchers believe narcotics addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is an underreported problem among seniors. While recent research suggests opioid prescriptions have been growing in long-term care homes, there has been little examination of policies, guidance and training on prescriptions and use of opioids in these settings. .The authors say adding other medications — including other sedatives — increases the risk of dangerous drug interactions. This approach also inhibits the effectiveness of narcotics to reduce chronic pain, prompting even higher doses. .The NIA offered six “evidence-informed policy recommendations” to address narcotics addiction among the elderly..Apply an ageing-specific lens to opioid policies and practices;Increase the use of non-opioid therapies and multidisciplinary pain treatments before relying on opioids;Increase awareness and understanding of opioid use disorder in older Canadians; Create guidelines on opioid use and pain management in Canadian long-term care settings;Enhance health care provider education and training around the use and effects of opioids in older Canadians; andIncrease research and data collection on opioid use and harms in older Canadians..Opioids are powerful and highly addictive medications to treat both acute and chronic pain. Opioids can also suppress coughs, reduce the sensation of breathlessness and address opioid use disorder..Short-acting opioid formulations can last three to six hours, compared to long-acting formulations that can last an entire day. Opioids primarily act on cell receptors in the brain and inhibit the release of specific neurotransmitters to prevent the sensation of pain. Counterintuitively, they can lead to increased pain sensitivity over time, known as opioid-induced hyperalgesia. .Since the 1980s, the amount of opioids sold to Canadian hospitals or pharmacies has increased about 3,000%. In 2016, 20 million prescriptions for opioid medications were provided in Canada. One out of eight Canadians was prescribed an opioid in 2018, despite fewer prescriptions than five years prior..Codeine, morphine and tramadol are among the weakest formulations that are commonly prescribed. Acetaminophen has roughly 1/360 strength of morphine, while ibuprofen has roughly 1/222 the strength of morphine. Stronger formulations include oxycodone and hydromorphone, which are roughly 1.5 and five times the strength of morphine, respectively. .Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, yet less than synthetic derivatives such as carfentanyl and furanylfentanyl. Fentanyl was the cause of 68% of drug overdoses in BC in 2016..In Canada, opioid use contributed to 7,650 deaths and 6,164 hopsitalizations in 2021. A 2017 Health Canada report found about one-third of those who had used opioids did not do so using a prescription, but among users 55 and older, this was only 1.2% of users.