The breakfast at Parkway
Place featured a panel discussion and a local documentary
titled “Addiction and Aging” highlighting the stories of
local older adults who have struggled with opioid addiction.
Ohio Senator served as
master of ceremonies for the event and Toledo Mayor Wade
Kapszukiewicz was the moderator for the panel discussion.
Opioid addiction “can, has
and will happen,” said Justin Moor, Area Office on Aging,
vice president of Planning and Development, as he opened the
conference. “If we believe it can’t happen to us, pretty
soon it turns into a nightmare.”
The documentary stressed
that patients should inform their doctors if they have ha a
previous history of addiction, that youthful addictions may
leave older adults vulnerable to prescription addictions,
that it is not a huge obstacle for patients to obtain
prescriptions, that opioids affect the brain in a manner
that brings pleasure and “the quickest way to grow a
problem is to turn your back on it.”
In his opening remarks
Gardner singled out Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp for
praise for his leadership in the opioid addiction battle.
The first panel member to
address the audience of about 400 was Nancy Orell, director
of the Optimal Aging Institute at Bowling Green State
University. Orell presented the history of the current wave
of addiction and how health professionals fell into the
practice of prescribing opioids so freely.
She pointed to a 1999
article in the New England Journal of Medicine that claimed
that opioids were not addictive and that they were ideal for
treating arthritis. Doctors had begun prescribing opioids
in the late 1990’s, said Orell, unaware of the unintended
consequences. However, when prescriptions ran out, so many
people, now addicted, turned to other sources to relieve
their discomfort – first heroin then fentanyl. – a powerful
synthetic, similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more
The largest number of
people dying of opioid abuse, said Orell, are in the 25 to
54 age group but those in the 54 to 64 age group show the
greatest increase in use. Forty-two percent of opioid deaths
are among adults 45 years and older.
Within the 10 counties of
northwest Ohio, in the 10 year period between 2007 and 2017,
there were 1234 opioid-addiction caused deaths, 46 percent
of those adults were over the age of 45.
In addition to Orell,
Scott Sylak, executive director of the Lucas County Mental
Health and Recovery Services Board, Dr. Areatha Hollie,
pharmacist, and Tharp also were on the panel and spoke about
the dangers opioids present to the older adult population.
If an older adult needs
home care, he or she can call the Area Office on Aging at