A recent report in US News revealed that the nation’s drug crisis affects more than just the young. Chronic pain, isolation, and mobility issues can cause many older adults to become addicted or suffer from substance abuse. A major driver in the increasing elderly substance abuse numbers is the use of prescription drugs. The US News report estimates that nearly 5.7 million people 50 years-of-age and older will have a substance abuse order by 2020, next year.

Behavior therapists add that the diagnosis of substance abuse in the elderly can be difficult because many symptoms mimic other diseases such as diabetes, dementia, and depression. The elderly need to respond to increasing physical limitations. Mental health issues can also make a diagnose of substance abuse hard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, nearly 20% of seniors had chronic pain. It can be hard for pain management doctors, elder care doctors, and family physicians to know when the drugs they prescribe are being misused. The CDC also states that the opioid death rate for adults 65 and older increased more than 17% from 2016 to 2017. Elderly in rural areas are especially prone to abuse because they can’t meet with their doctors as easily as those in the suburbs or cities.

Some of the criminal charges being brought in elderly drug abuse cases

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and state law enforcement are working aggressively to arrest doctors who try to take advantage of the need seniors to have drugs (prescription and non-prescription) by:

  • Prescribing prescriptions that aren’t needed
  • Failing to comply with new legal standards for treating patients who receive opioids
  • Prescribing drugs when safer physical and mental health remedies are available


Doctors who give out free samples to patients may be well-intended but samples without prescriptions can lead to criminal charges.

Seniors who drive while under the influence of narcotics can be arrested. DUI offenses are not just limited to alcohol cases.

Any doctor or senior who uses, sells, or manufacturers illegal drugs can be charged.

As with all criminal, defenses may apply. The prosecution has the burden of proving its cases. Evidence may have been seized improperly. The government may have violated your Constitutional rights. The government may not be able to prove the amount of type of drugs that were involved.

At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, you work with an Annapolis defense lawyer who understands that convictions mean losing your liberty and your license. We fight to show doctors were putting the health of their patient first or that the state doesn’t have the evidence to prove its case. We fight for seniors whose only real offense is getting old. For help with any drug charges, make an appointment with Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law – at  410.777.8103, or fill out my contact form.

And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.