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Unexpected group of people are dying from opioid overdoses

Posted at 5:52 AM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 14:52:52-04

MILWAUKEE -- An unexpected group of people are being killed from our opioid epidemic: older people.

The Inspector General found in 2016, 500,000 Medicare Part D recipients were prescribed more than the drug manufacturer's recommendations.

John Evard says he followed the instructions on his Oxycodone prescription to deal with excruciating pain after ear surgery.

"I needed some increased amount as the pain got worse and worse," said Evard.

Eight months later, the 71-year-old checked into rehab.

"I couldn't play golf with my friends. I couldn't go to restaurants," said Evard, "My life was ending. I mean, I didn't have anything really reason to live, except just living for the more medications."

Health experts warn, people who become addicted to opioids are at risk of switching to cheaper and more addictive drugs, like heroin.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office has been tracking deadly overdoses. About 21-percent of overdose deaths so far this year, are age 55 and older.

Pain specialist Irene Wu said opioids can be used safely for acute pain. There are additional worries when prescribing to seniors.

"Plder patients are more prone to side effects because they metabolize medications much more slowly," said Dr. Wu.

John says the withdrawal symptoms were brutal but worth it. He insists the best relief he gets, is from exercise.