Opioid Misuse Brings Increased Number of Older Kentuckians to Emergency Rooms

Mar 17, 2019

Credit U.S. National Library of Medicine

Much of the effort to confront the opioid crisis in America has focused on young adult and middle-aged populations. But  a new study finds that more older adults, including those in Kentucky, are showing up in emergency rooms because of opioid misuse.

The results of the study, published in the journal Innovation in Aging, show that nationwide, emergency room visits due to opioid misuse by adults 65 and old more than tripled between 2006 and 2014. That increase was determined using data from emergency departments at hospitals in 34 states.

Associate Professor of Health Sciences at Towson University Mary Carter is the lead researcher on the study.

Carter said that during the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, the number of Kentuckians over 65 who visited emergency rooms for opioid misuse rose from 265 to 616. 

In a review of 2014 data only, Carter found the data suggests that  nationwide adults age 65 and older accounted for slightly more than three percent of all opioid-related emergency department visits. That's a total of 9,170 ER visits by these older adults for opiod-related issues for that one-year period.