Age Old Wisdom – Can Cannabis Help Senior Population?
Daily 1,000 people across the US are treated in emergency rooms for opiate misuse. That doesn’t include other medications that may land someone in trouble and in need of emergency care. While we hear of the “opiate crisis” and well we should, we don’t hear much about other medications on which people can overdose. The equation is simple, more pills, more overdoses. We don’t think much about it, but the most vulnerable population is the elderly. It makes sense, as we age, we have more and more medications. Western culture and medicine is a pill for everything. Is this a bad thing? While it’s easy to demonize the western medicine pill culture, the truth is, we all benefit from science and advancements in medicine. The trouble begins with the management of disease and as we age, that becomes trickier.
Older people seem to have many pills. Control medications for things that happen to humans as we age. For many, people who were never impaired drinkers now have the issue of what their alcohol consumption does in terms of interacting with medications. People who have safely had an evening glass of wine their whole lives may no longer be able to do so with the addition of various medications. Additionally, it is very easy to mismanage medications, take an additional dose when one can’t quite remember if they took their meds already. I’m 48 and almost nightly I think “did I already take my pills?” In 25 more years, I likely to have more medications, although I don’t drink so the stake are lower.
Our expectation of older people is that they are in a state of decline, once retired, we don’t seem to ask much of them. As a result, being impaired by pain medications can go unnoticed or dismissed as being old. That may be the case but very often, we aren’t addressing addiction. Getting old means having pain. Be it arthritis or muscle pain, we all experience this. Chronic pain can mean pain often means powerful pain killers, highly addictive and misused, very dangerous. Given the number of factors with elderly people, it’s not a surprise they are vulnerable to medical mishaps and the stakes are high. In our culture, passing “peacefully while sleeping” is about as good as it gets. There is comfort in knowing there was no suffering and hope that we all go the same way. Is it possible that some of these aren’t peaceful passing but overdoses? It is absolutely possible and that’s a tragic outcome.
High Sobriety is a new venture. Though our team isn’t new, the organization and presentation of cannabis inclusion in a designated treatment protocol is. We knew there were numerous populations that could benefit from harm reduction and replacement protocols. We weren’t expecting as many older people as have crossed our path but it makes sense.
People who have not had issues with drug use their whole life could easily develop one in the later years. Adding medications, interacting with alcohol, managing pain all add up to vulnerability and the possibility of problems. While the elderly isn’t a population which immediately comes to mind when talking about cannabis as an option, it makes much sense. As with all populations, High Sobriety advocates for safety first. With only theoretical lethal doses, elderly people using cannabis are safe. Much of what is prescribed for older people is symptomatic care, and cannabis is a viable option for many of the aches and pains that plague people. When discussing this, many people have the erroneous image of grandma making cookies and taking rips off a bong. There are many options with cannabis without indulging in that cartoonish comedy. There are many strains of medicinal cannabis that can aid the desired outcome without the intoxicating properties of THC. High Sobriety is a viable option for some older people hoping to meet their goals of rescuing or eliminating risky medications with a safer form of help. As with many pioneering efforts, we learn more all the time. One of the things we have learned is that older people are safer and often times happier with fewer pills.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor-in-Chief