Did you know 2.5 million older adults in the United States today have a drug or alcohol problem? There is a rising concern over the prevalence of substance abuse among adults over age 60 as research begins to shed light on a very real problem, which is the fact that there is a large at-risk population we have ignored when it comes to detecting and treating addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Most research has found there are two kinds of older adults with substance misuse issues: those who have successfully hidden an addiction since they were younger, and those who have developed a substance dependency later in life. Whatever the case may be, the problem is significant.
Why Older Adults Become Addicted
If you suspect a loved one might be addicted to alcohol or drugs, you may be wondering, “How did this happen?” There are many reasons older adults struggle with addiction, including major life changes such as retirement or the death of a spouse.
Growing older comes with significant physical and emotional losses. Compounding that is the fact that many older adults are trying to cope with all these things while also becoming more limited physically. They may be stuck at home more, unable to get out and seek friendships or other ways of coping.
Physical Consequences of Substance Addiction in Older Adults
Some people falsely believe there is no point in treating addiction for older adults. Other people feel they shouldn’t take away something that brings their aging loved one comfort. However, many don’t realize alcohol and drug addictions are more harmful to older adults than any other age group.
Why? As our bodies age, our ability to process and metabolize alcohol or drugs declines. Therefore, the effects of the substances intensify, and it takes much less to generate effects. Not only that, but older adults are more likely to be taking prescription drugs, and when they combine those legally prescribed medications with other drugs or alcohol, even in moderate quantities, the effects can be severe and dangerous.
Elderly Addiction Treatment Centers
It is never too late for older adults to receive help for addiction. Whether a person has five years left to live or 50, they deserve the same level of care and compassion as they work to become healthy and leave their dangerous behaviors behind. If you suspect someone you love may be caught in a cycle of substance abuse or addiction, it is essential to help them by seeking professional assistance. At New Found Life, we offer a range of evidence-based treatment programs to help our clients achieve lasting recovery. When you need us, our admissions staff are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.