although abuse of substances like heroin is a problem as well, experts say many overdose deaths in older adults involve prescription medications, and that misuse occurs gradually or without initial intent to abuse the drugs “they’re not using these medications to get high or for risk-taking but they’re using them to manage their pain,” says kenneth leonard, director of the clinical and research institute on addictions at the university at buffalo but frequently medical and mental health professionals say despite increasing doses of pain medication, and because of an increased tolerance for opioids, for example, many take more of the medications, and still aren’t successful in managing their pain “sometimes they combine them with benzodiazepines that they are prescribed and many of the deaths that we see involve a combination of opiates and benzodiazepines,” leonard says

prescription drug addiction