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I know for a fact that my mother, who lives alone, is abusing prescription drugs. She won't let my brother, who lives nearby, or me, who lives out of state, talk with her doctors. She takes Oxycontin and drinks while on it. Also she took Ambien a couple years ago and totaled her car (and fractured her arm in the accident) while sleep walking on that. We finally got her to stop taking that and yesterday she just admitted she is still taking it. What can we do? She doesn't think any of it is a problem.

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OMG! Great analogy SelfishSiblings! My brother and I are always saying my Mom is a train wreck waiting to happen. Thank you to all who answered. I truly appreciate your insights. As far as writing to her doctor; my brother did that a year ago with NO response. I've tried to speak with her doctor and she won't speak with me even after we voiced our concerns in the letter (which I confirmed they received). She was off the oxy for awhile about 8-10 months ago after a short hospital stay where I called and BEGGED the nurse to get the doctor's attention about her oxy use. When she found out I spoke with the nurse, she was livid. I'm not sure how she could possibly have gotten more oxy now from her regular doctor after that! I agree she has a death wish and told her so and she said "she doesn't care if she lives or dies and that she has nothing to live for". My father passed away last year after a long bout with dementia and at the end didn't even know her. So nice to hear your own mother tell you she has nothing to live for. (what about her children and grandchildren?) We've tried to get her to independent living and she keeps resisting with so many excuses. I mean, after the death wish admission, I feel like throwing in the towel but just can't.
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Thanks, JessieBelle. I knew this about Tylenol and alcohol. I told her. So she bought the generic brand and thinks its OK. It's not. I know. She's a stroke waiting to happen. I have NO family support, meaning my siblings. They have vanished. One checks in but that's it. I am alone in this battle and doing all I can do. The train has left the station and I can't stop it.

-SS
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I am reading some medical no-nos in this thread. Ambien is for short-term use only. A doctor prescribing it for long periods could get in trouble (and rightly so) for going against use guidelines. It is one of the more addictive drugs, and the benefits rarely outweigh the risks. There are other medications that are not so addictive and don't have such strange effects as this drug does. I took a double dose of Ambien once when I had some oral surgery. My sense of time and reality collapsed completely, though I remained awake. It was indeed a strange medication.

Tylenol shouldn't be coupled with alcohol. The combination is toxic to the liver and can be lethal. Anyone combining the two in large doses are playing a dangerous game with their body chemistry. If a person drinks, they should opt for another pain reliever.
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She is acting like she has a death wish, so confront her with it. Tell her "OK let's stop all your heart meds, etc. and it will all be over in 48 hours, is that what you really want?" Do it with several family members present to back you up. Let her vent, and then talk about rehab.
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I was once advised by a family therapist that, when a parent is engaging in a behavior that is dangerous to themselves and/or others (like driving while on ambien or being addicted to oxy!), that the best thing is to write a letter (not make a phone call) to their doctor. Explain their behavior and your concerns. They will have to make it part of the patient file and it will be in their own best interest to address it. It's easy to shrug off a comment during a visit or a phone call, but no doctor would want it coming back to him (after an accident or other catastrophe) that he was warned about a patient and chose not to address a situation. The written word always carries more weight.
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1) An addict doesn't admit to abuse issues - until they have a break through event. If you try to educate - you'll only instill fear of loosing the medication and anger. It's NOT your loved one's fault! It is truly a byproduct of our health care system.

2) It's a serious issue with the elderly in particular. a) Dr's throw pain medications at seniors to "quiet" their legitimate aches and pains
b) PT/OT would be a better choice but..Dr's who are not well versed with the elderly don't often opt for it - they're first treatment of choice is medication.
c) The Drug Reps drive this mentality - so - it's not all the Dr's onus
d) Dr's will continue to prescribe the pills until they realize what they've created! Then, they may opt not to treat anymore - it's a very sad scenario. Especially when it's OUR parents who are stuck in the middle of it and we have to clean up the mess.

3) Find a very good Geriatric Specialist - Seniors need special care - just as infants. Most Dr's will continue their care - but it's not where elderly belong - usually.
a) Reaction to medications are different and they have a higher risk of addiction
b) Also, have higher chance of depression - which can feed from the pain medications and incite the addiction. Very cyclical.
c) They will encourage therapy, movement, interaction etc - and can evaluate older people at a different level of understanding their specific needs and levels of care by setting realistic goals.
d) They know the overall health risks and for falls due to these pain medications.
e) Main side effect is constipation - which causes abuse of OTC laxatives. This also can cause serious bone loss. They're already prone to falls from decreased muscle tone, now you add pain meds which can create a fog, and then decreased bone mass - and you've got a disaster waiting to happen.

4) Best wishes on changing Dr's. When it's for their own good, lie - I know how difficult it is but figure out a way for your loved ones own health and just do it. You won't regret it in the long run..it sure beats ignoring the situation.
Blessings,
Cheryl
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how old is she, what diseases does she have? are you her mpoa? should she be living alone? i might be able to answer you better if you answer these questions, willl keep you in my prayers, hugs
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My Mom has the same problem. I think senior drug and alcohol addition is more common than we think and not being addressed in the industry. My Mom is 85, was addicted to darvicet for years and the doctor just kept giving it to her. They had to take it off the market for her to stop taking it!!! With every surgery, I tell the doctors not to give her anything habitual. She'll call every doctor and ask for refills until they stop giving them to her. Now, she eats Tylenol PM like they're candy and she drinks a lot. She kind of admits to the problem but keeps on doing it and lies to me when I saw "How many pills did you take Mom?" All actions of an addict and how sad is it that I have to say that. My plan is to call her doctor, tell him what's going on and have him call her to set up an appointment for a physical and then talk to her.

Soooo Diane, I think she may continue to not listen to you, as my Mom has done, but maybe looking for support from a doctor might help. All I can say, is know want you are going through.

xo
-SS
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Same problem here! Just to add to EVERYTHING ELSE...Ugh! , My prayers are with you!!!
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This sounds like a general drug 'n alcohol problem.
Consider an intervention, if there are a couple family members who see the problem, and have a plan for a rehab center.
Consider having some AAs out to talk to her -call your local AA chapter
Consider going to Al-Anon yourself. It's for the families of alcoholics.
These aren't the only treatment modalities, but two of them are free, and there are some wonderful folks there.
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Oh, and also, if your mom doesn't think she has a problem then she's not likely to do anything about it.
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You can try to speak to the Dr. who is prescribing the medication but if your mom is habitually taking more than what's prescribed she can't just suddenly stop taking the medication. The side effects can be horrific and she'd need to be monitored as an inpatient for the first few days.

How does she keep getting medication?
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