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Drug And Alcohol Dependence In The Elderly

Senior Citizens And Substance Abuse

If a person is older than 65 and has a substance addiction, which is not unheard of, the health consequences can be a lot more hazardous than with younger addicts.


A rapidly growing health problem in the United States is Drug and Alcohol abuse among the elderly. Drug and alcohol abuse among elderly is, according to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, classified in a couple of general groups: the "late onset" addicts, which is a group that developed the addiction in their older years, and "hardy survivor" which is a term for addicts that have been abusing drug or alcohol for a longer period and have turned 65 in the meantime. There are treatment choices available to help you get back on a healthy track, it doesn't matter what your age is or when addiction began.


Addiction among people 65 and up is often under-diagnosed and underestimated, which can stop them from getting the help they need.


Causes Of Dependence In The Elderly

There are several things involved in contributing to someone turning to substance abuse later in life. Some of them may have dealt with desperate situations or are suffering hopelessness due to sickness.

These are few of the things that are causing older folks to turn to substance abuse. Please give us a call on 0800 246 1509 today, if you or someone you know is battling with addiction problems later in life and requires assistance searching for a treatment program.


Some of the reasons that provoke senior citizens to begin substance abuse are:

  • Retirement
  • Death of spouse, a family member, pet or close friend.
  • Financial Issues
  • Resettlement or placement in a nursing home
  • Insomnia
  • Family conflict
  • Health deterioration (depression, memory loss, major surgeries, etc.)

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The Risks Of Senior Citizens Drug Misuse

Substance or alcohol misuse among the older individuals particularly very risky because elderly people are highly vulnerable to the dropping consequences of these drugs.

Benzodiazepines are probably the most hazardous prescription substances for elderly, even though they are generally used to treat pain, anxiety and sleeping issues. They are extremely addictive and easily prescribed. Every year the rate of senior citizens addicted to benzos increases.


Senior citizens have a decreased ability to metabolize drugs or alcohol along with an increased brain sensitivity to them. This makes it very risky for elderly individuals to utilize substances or alcohol at all, despite the person being not addicted.


Challenges In Identifying Addiction Of Senior Citizens

Alcohol or substance misuse may actually resemble signs of other medical or mental health illnesses, like diabetes, dementia or depression.

It makes it simpler for doctors who come across an older patient to attribute deteriorating mental or physical health simply to "old age".


Signs Of Dependence In Elderly Individuals

The mental health, physical health and personal relationships of people may start to deteriorate as they get older. It's important to pay attention to any unusual signs your elderly loved one displays, although addiction can be difficult to recognize in this demographic.

Drug usage in the elderly can sow itself in signs including:

  • Memory loss or gap
  • Changes in sleeping practices
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Depression, irritability, sadness,
  • Unexplained chronic pain
  • Changes in eating traits
  • Preference to solitude
  • Failing to bathe or stay clean
  • Losing ties with loved ones
  • Losing interest in usual activities

It is important to look for a rehab facility when you recognize an addiction, especially one with a particular expertise with addiction among elderly.

Since individuals over 65 particularly are devoid of the social support needed throughout recovery, so you should search for programs that specialize in this kind of addiction and also provide case management services. The continued healthy lifestyle is allowed after the treatment with these case management services that provide the elderly with access to medical, psychiatric, and social resources.


Elderly Addiction Statistics

The high rate at which individuals 65 years and older are forming addictions to several substances is surely cause for concern and something that should not be neglected by healthcare professionals, caretakers or family members.