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Wood County Opioid Forum & Panel Discussion
Was held on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018

At Pemberville Legion Hall

This countywide discussion was organized by Dr. Ted Bowlus, Wood County Commissioner, and sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation. Dr. Robert Forney, Chief Toxicologist of the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, was the Keynote Speaker. Dr. Nancy Orel, the Optimal Aging Institute’s Executive Director of Research and Professor Emeritus, joined 10 other speakers (see below).

BG Independent News’ account of this forum (published 2/11/2018)


Dr. Robert Forney, Chief Toxicologist of the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, Keynote Speaker

Paul Dobson, Wood County Prosecutor; Director of the Addiction Response Collaborative (A.R.C.)

Belinda Brooks, Addiction Response Collaborative (A.R.C.) Coordinator

Ryan Richards, Addiction Response Collaborative (A.R.C.) Deputy

Tom Clemons, Executive Director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Service Board (ADAMHS)

Aimee Coe, Director of Community Programs through the ADAMHS Board

Kyle Clark, Director of the Wood County Educational Service Center (WCESC); Prevention Education Director

Milan Karna, Wood County Prevention Coalition Coordinator

Eric Reynolds, Wood County Deputy Sheriff

Dr. Ted Bowlus, Wood County Commissioner; Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience, Graduate School of University of Findlay; Board Certified Physician and Surgeon of the lower leg, ankle, and foot

Dr. Nancy Orel, Executive Director of Research of the Optimal Aging Institute, and BGSU Professor Emeritus

Dr. Nancy Orel (Executive Director of Research for the OAI, BGSU) and Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad (Associate Professor of Communication, BGSU) have been investigating the impact of the opioid public health crisis on middle-aged and older adults. Based on their review of the limited published literature, several key facts concerning the impact of the opioid crisis on middle-aged and older adults have been identified:

  • Adults aged 50+ are the greatest consumers of prescription drugs and due to their increased rates of chronic pain, they are three times more likely to be prescribed opioids (Patel et al., 2013). One-in-three Medicare Part D beneficiaries received a prescription opioid in 2016, and approximately 500,000 beneficiaries received high amounts of opioids (U.S. Office of the Inspector General, 2017).
  • Between 2002 and 2016, prescription opioid misuse increased 66% for those aged 50-64 and more than doubled for those aged 65 and older (Schepis & McCabe, 2016).
  • Physicians and other health care practitioners may have inadvertently “created a culture of overprescribing” because they receive less education about opioid use and abuse among middle-aged and older adults (Brodwin, 2017).
  • Nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among older adults has been associated with negative health outcomes including falls, hip fractures, traffic accidents (Buckeridge et al., 2010), confusion (Gold, 2017), and cardiac events (Vozoris et al., 2017).
  • The stigma related to drug addiction prevents many middle-aged and older adults from seeking treatment (Cochran et al., 2017).
  • Older adults on the traditional treatment for opioid addiction (e.g. methadone-maintenance-treatment) may become increasingly vulnerable (Cotton et al., 2017).
  • Opioid abuse and/or fatal opioid overdoses of adult children is the primary reason that individuals aged 45+ assume primary caregiving of their grandchildren (Pew Charitable Trust, 2016).
  • Despite the research that has documented opioid misuse amongst the general population, there is a dearth of research regarding opioid misuse amongst middle-aged and older adults (Cochran et al., 2017).
  • Opioid use and misuse educational programs specifically tailored for middle-aged and older adults have not been developed.


Brodwin, R. (2017). Deaths from opioid overdoses have jumped – and one age group is being affected at stark rates. Business Insider. Available at

Buckeridge, D., Huang, A., Hanley, J., Kelome, A., Reidel, K., Verma, A. Winslade, N., & Tamblyn, R. (2010). Risk of injury associated with opioid use in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 58, 1664-1670.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (February, 2017). Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999-2015. NCHS Data Brief No 273. Available at

Cochran, G., Rosen, D., McCarthy, R., & Engel, R. (2017). Risk factors for symptoms of prescription drug misuse: Do older adults differ from younger adult patients? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 60(6-7), 443-457.

Cotton, B., Culbertson Bryson, W., & Bruce, M. (2017). Methadone maintenance treatment for older adults: Cost and logistical considerations. Psychiatric Services. Available at  

Gold, J. (2017). Prescribing opioids to seniors: It’s a balancing act. Kaiser Health News. Available at

Patel, K., Guralnik, J., Dansie, E., & Turk, D. (2013). Prevalence and impact of pain among older adults in the United States: Findings from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study. Pain, 154(12), 2649-2657.

Pew Charitable Trust (November, 2016). Why more grandparents are raising grandchildren. Available at

Schepis, T., & McCabe, S. (2016). Trends in older adult nonmedical prescription use prevalence. Results from the 2002-2003 and 2012-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Addictive Behaviors, 60, 219-222.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2017). Opioid misuse increases among older adults. The CBHSQ Report. Available at

U.S. Office of the Inspector General (2017). Opioids in Medicare Part D: Concerns about extreme use and questionable prescribing. Available at

Vozoris, N., Wang, X., Austin, P., Lee, D., Stephenson, A., O’Donnell, D., Gill, S., & Rochon, P. (2017). Adverse cardiac event associated with incident opioid drug use among older adults with COPD. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 73, 1287-1295.