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Senior Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug and alcohol addiction is typically associated with young and middle-aged adults. However, many adults in the 65-and-over age group also struggle with substance abuse.

According to a 2018 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one million senior citizens have a substance use disorder. For over a decade, substance abuse has increased among older adults in the US, from 3.4% to 7.0% of the senior population.

With alcoholism and drug dependence on the rise among older Americans, an increasing number of rehab centers now offer addiction treatment aimed at elderly adults.

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Older Adults and Alcohol Addiction

Among older adults, the most common type of substance abuse is alcohol addiction. Alcohol has always been readily available and accepted in most adult situations. However, people often overdrink when they’re depressed or lack self-restraint. Some older people drink to cope with age-related depression causes, such as loneliness and empty-nest syndrome.

For older drinkers, alcohol can cause a “high” akin to the drug-induced highs in younger adults. Alcohol can also damage internal organs in aging individuals, especially the liver. It’s easier for older people to get disoriented while drunk and have accidents. For older women, the risks are even greater due to the lower alcohol tolerance level of the female body.

Drug Abuse Among Senior Citizens

Elderly drug use is on the rise. Aside from alcohol, today’s newer influx of senior citizens are taking illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. Cocaine, an upper, causes insomnia, paranoia and loss of appetite. Heroine, a downer, causes fatigue, brain fog and nausea.

Why do Older People Use Drugs and Alcohol?

Older adults struggle with substance use disorders for the same reasons as their younger counterparts:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Financial uncertainty
  • Poor coping skills

The number of older adults battling addiction is likely to increase in the 2020s as more baby boomers cross the age of 65. Unlike prior generations that frowned on drug use, most boomers came of age during the drug-crazed 1970s. A lot of them maintain that more permissive attitude.

The growing number of older drug users is also attributed to the increased life expectancy of people in the US.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Seniors

The risks of drug and alcohol addiction among older adults include:

  • Immune system disorders
  • Liver damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Ulcers
  • Memory loss 
  • Mood disorders

As in most cases of drug or alcohol addiction, older adults develop tolerance levels. As the older adult consumes high doses, he/she might be unaware of the problem.

Addiction to Over the Counter Medications

Not all substance abuse involves illicit drugs. A lot of older adults suffer from insomnia and stress. Some individuals purchase over-the-counter sleeping aids and relaxant medications and grow dependent.

Older Adults and Chronic Physical Pain

Chronic pain is common among older adults. At clinics, it’s common for an elderly patient to get a prescription for painkillers and exceed the recommended dosage. As the body grows tolerant and the medication loses its effect, the individual increases his/her dosage.

Opioid Addiction Among Elderly Adults in the US

Treatment providers often prescribe opioid analgesics to older patients, who take these meds for numerous age-related conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Back problems
  • Neuropathy
  • Anxiety disorders

An older individual with impaired cognitive skills can easily develop a substance abuse problem if the intake isn’t supervised by younger adults of sound mind.

Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health

A drug or alcohol problem is typically tied to a mental health disorder. In recent years, health care providers have come to see the correlation between substance abuse and mental health. Today’s drug and alcohol rehab centers treat addiction as a mental illness.

When you seek treatment for older family members, choose a specific rehab center that offers high-quality behavioral healthcare, practiced in accordance with the Mental Health Services Administration.

Support Groups for Seniors with Drug Problems

As substance abuse among seniors increases, many treatment centers now conduct group therapy sessions where senior citizens talk among their own. If they have good domestic support, they could undergo outpatient treatment and spend their evenings at home.

In any treatment program, patients should be socialized among like-minded individuals on the same journey. The best treatment centers in the behavioral health industry are staffed with medical professionals that offer residential treatment suited to elderly individuals.

Find Senior Addiction Treatment Today

If your parent or grandparent has a physical dependence on an illicit drug, act now before it becomes a medical emergency. Addiction rehab centers offer a private and convenient solution for older adults who struggle with drugs or alcohol.

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

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