The Classifications of Addiction for Seniors

There is a definite need for alcohol rehab in the United States.

For seniors, substance abuse is actually given two classifications. There are those who have been abusing drugs or alcohol for most of their lives. There is another group who turns to substances in the later years of their lives. Both conditions are important to recognize. Addictions or substance abuse disorders can remain hidden for a long time. They can also be very hard to diagnose, which is why many doctors miss them.

Questions the Elderly Ask About Substance Abuse

If you're a senior with a substance abuse problem, it's important for you to have the right information. You need to learn as much about the pattern of your substance abuse as you can. It's vital for you to know:

  • What could have caused your substance abuse problem to occur.
  • The dangers associated with elder drug and alcohol use.
  • Why it's hard for doctors to recognize an addiction in their elderly patients.
  • How to know if you're suffering from an addiction or substance abuse.
  • Barriers to addiction treatment you may encounter and how to overcome them.
  • Where you can turn when you need substance abuse treatment.

This information is designed to help you overcome your substance abuse problem or addiction. As a senior, this should be the best time of your life. Drug dependence or alcohol dependence doesn't have to be a part of that. With the right kind of substance abuse help, it won't be for very long.

Addiction Rehab and the Elderly

Common Reasons Seniors Participate in Substance Abuse

There are many different reasons why senior citizens may turn to drugs and alcohol. These individuals often go through traumatic, life-changing events. They may encounter experiences that are unlike anything most people are familiar with. These changes can be hard to deal with, and they often result in substance abuse as a solution.

Senior citizens have often gone through many difficult situations.

For many senior citizens, retirement is a time of celebration. It's a time for them to have all to themselves. They may start to travel, or spend more time with their grandchildren. For others, it can be a time of intense sadness and boredom.

When the elderly start to become sad, depressed or bored, they often look for something to fill that void. Unfortunately, this leads many of them to turn to substances for solace and comfort.

Elderly individuals experience a great deal of stress in the later years of their lives. A lot of that stress stems from losing someone close to them. They may lose a spouse, or they may lose a close friend, or even a pet. Losing someone they love can lead elderly people to start thinking about their own lives and deaths. They may start to become fearful of the future. They, of course, miss the companionship. The death of a loved one can result in them to feel very lonely.

In an ideal world, seniors will have an excellent retirement plan and plenty of savings. This allows them to live their last years any way they would want to. Sadly, this is not the case for most seniors. Instead, they live on fixed incomes, or even in poverty, in many cases. Financial stress and strain can be so debilitating, and it can lead to substance abuse problems.

There often comes a time for families when moving a loved one into a nursing home is their best option. This is hard on both the senior and the family members. For many elderly people, nursing home life is fun and interesting. Others may become despondent and angry about being placed there. They may blame their families for abandoning them. When this occurs, they may turn to substances as a way to cope.

As people enter their senior years, conflicts are almost a given for many. They may argue with their children over a number of issues, and this causes a lot of stress. When these conflicts occur, senior citizens don't always know where they can turn for help. Counseling might seem to be the best option for most people. However, drugs and alcohol are often the solution that is sought.

For many senior citizens, experiencing a decline in their health is to be expected. This is even truer when they spent many years working at a demanding, physical job. They are often taking a lot of medications to help them with various physical issues. Many of the medications prescribed by doctors can become addictive. This is true even if they're not “normally” thought to be addictive. For example, it's possible to become addicted to opiate pain medications, which are frequently prescribed for pain. Benzodiazepines can also lead to addictions. These are often given for anxiety or insomnia.

Finally, certain mental illnesses can easily lead to addiction. Seniors may choose to drink or use drugs to help with their symptoms. This can seem like an easier solution than getting professional treatment. Problems like depression, PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder are relatively common among the elderly.

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Types of Substances Frequently Abused by the Elderly and Why

There are actually two different types of substances that elderly individuals commonly abuse. There are also reasons why these substances are their drugs of choice.

Alcohol is frequently chosen by the elderly as their go-to drug. Alcohol is very easy for them to obtain, and it's considered much more socially acceptable. Elderly men and women may abuse alcohol without realizing the harm in doing so. In fact, they may even participate in binge drinking.

Binge drinking occurs when men drink more than 5 drinks in a two-hour period of time. For women, it is defined as drinking more than 4 drinks within two hours.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcoholism among seniors is common. In the United States, 2.5 million elderly people are either alcoholics or drug addicts. Widowers over the age of 75 currently have the highest rate of alcoholism. Also, 50% of people in nursing homes suffer from alcoholism or alcohol abuse problems.

This is definitely a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Various types of prescription drugs are also commonly abused by seniors. Older adults are at a greater risk for prescription drug abuse. This is because they generally take more of these medications than others do. Senior citizens actually consume 33% of the nation's prescription drugs.

Seniors usually take more than one medication each day. During the course of the day, they may take several, actually. This means that they are more likely to make a mistake with their medications. They are also responsible for the use of more narcotics than other age groups. This is generally due to the fact that the experience higher levels of pain. They also tend to have greater instances of anxiety.

Mistaken Prescription Medication Addictions in the Elderly

Many times, prescription drug addiction among seniors happens by mistake. They may not realize that their drugs they're taking could turn into an addiction. They may abuse prescription drugs without realizing there's any harm in doing so. This might come in the form of drinking alcohol while taking their medication. It could also come in the form of increasing their dosages on their own.

Once an elderly person becomes addicted to a prescription drug, stopping that drug abruptly is dangerous. It could lead to terrible withdrawal symptoms. If the person is on additional medications, or suffering from health problems, the result could be even worse.

The Dangers of Elder Alcohol Use or Drug Use Explained

Senior citizens are actually much more susceptible to substances than others are. Their bodies don't have the same ability to metabolize drugs or alcohol at a fast rate. Additionally, they are much more sensitive to them than they were when they were younger. This is why it's so dangerous for them to even use alcohol or drugs. Even if there is no addiction present, the dangers are still evident.

Also, there is also the very real danger of drug interaction. This occurs when one drug reacts with another drug in a negative way. This can put seniors' lives at risk when they use. Most seniors are not aware of drug interactions, and so they may continue to use them without concern.

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The Challenge of Diagnosing Substance Abuse Disorder Among Seniors

It can be extremely challenging to diagnose a substance abuse disorder for an elderly person. This is why many doctors may miss it.

Alcohol abuse and drug abuse symptoms can mimic symptoms that are typically experienced by seniors. As they get older, they experience serious medical problems, and they often have mental health issues. They may suffer from problems like diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems, depression or dementia.

When doctors examine senior citizens, it's very easy to mistake their symptoms. They may assume that declining mental health is the reason behind a diagnosis.

They may assume that old age has simply led to a breakdown of the body or the mind. Unfortunately, too many seniors' substance abuse problems go overlooked and unaddressed by their physicians.

Considering the amount of seniors in the United States with substance abuse problems, this has to change. Physicians need to be much more aware of their needs. Assessing them for substance abuse, or even addiction should be a high priority. Right now, it is not.

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Are You an Addicted Senior? Identify the Signs of Addiction

Seniors don't always know whether or not they have addictions, or are alcoholic. This can be just as confusing for concerned family members who worry about their welfare. If this is the case for you, it's important to be able to recognize the signs of alcoholism or addiction.

Answering the following questions can help:

  • Do you currently use a higher amount of drugs than you did in the beginning?
  • Do you feel as though using drugs helps you cope with the various issues you face?
  • Do you think that drug abuse has become a part of your daily life?
  • Are you having health-related problems that that could be related to your drug use?
  • Is it hard for you to imagine a life without using drugs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be an addict. You could also be abusing drugs.

Are you concerned that you might be an alcoholic? You can answer the following:

  • Do you feel the need to drink when you wake up in the morning?
  • Do you avoid events unless you're able to drink during them?
  • Do you spend a lot of time recovering from binge drinking or heavy drinking?
  • Do you think about the next time you'll get to consume alcohol often?
  • Is alcohol abuse becoming a very important part of your life?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be an alcoholic.

Take an Alcoholism Quiz and Assess Your Level of Dependence on Alcohol

It's possible that you're worried about being an alcoholic as well. An alcoholism quiz can give you additional information about this.

If you're the family member of a senior citizen, a family member addiction quiz can help you as well. Some signs you may want to look for include:

  • Bruises that can't be explained.
  • Strange memory lapses
  • Becoming very depressed or sad
  • Chronic pain that is unexplained
  • Strange changes in eating habits
  • Poor grooming habits
  • Becoming isolated from loved ones

An Addiction Quiz for Seniors

Maybe you're worried that you might be addicted to prescription drugs, or another type of drug. You can take a drug addiction quiz to help you get more information.

Barriers to Addiction Treatment That are Common for the Elderly and How to Overcome Them

There are many barriers to substance abuse treatment often occur for senior citizens. Even if they desire to heal and recovery, they may find it difficult to get the help they need. This is often because:

  • They don't have adequate transportation. Many senior citizens aren't able to drive any longer. This can keep them from reaching out for help. It can also keep them from telling someone in their families about their substance abuse. They may be afraid of being a burden.
  • Not enough social support. They have few friends to support them during the recovery process as they get older.
  • They may feel they don't have time. Elderly people are often called upon to offer childcare for grandchildren while their children work. They may have to care for a sick spouse, or have other obligations during the day. This can keep them from getting help.
  • They may not be aware of appropriate programs. There aren't many substance abuse programs that specialize in caring for the elderly. These can be very hard to find, and this can serve as a barrier.
  • They may not be able to afford it. Most senior citizens have health insurance for addiction treatment. However, they may not realize they have coverage, and so, deem treatment unaffordable.

These barriers present very real challenges for elderly people. However, these challenges can be overcome. Simply speaking with a professional about your issues can resolve many of them. You'd be surprised how eager they are to help you.

Assistance for Loved Ones of Elderly Family Members with Substance Abuse Disorders

Perhaps you are the adult child of an alcoholic or an addict. This is a very stressful time for you. You want to help your mom or dad so badly, but you're not sure how.

You may have noticed many of the above senior citizen addiction signs in your parent. You know that something has to be done, but nothing you say seems to help the situation.

It may be time for you to consider having an intervention. Interventions can be very effective with senior citizens. Quite often, they're using because they feel alone, and like no one cares about them. During an intervention, many friends and family members will be there. They will all be expressing their love and support for treatment. This alone is often enough to encourage a significant change in an elderly person.

The Many Benefits of Alcohol Treatment and Drug Treatment for Senior Citizens

Alcohol treatment and drug treatment has many benefits for senior citizens. These include:

  • Having the opportunity to get specialized treatment for their drug abuse or alcohol abuse problems.
  • Being able to learn more about substance abuse and addiction, and how it affects them.
  • Being able to meet with their families to repair and improve their relationships.
  • Getting to the heart of the problem behind the addiction so that healing can take place.
  • Preparing them for life after treatment is over.
  • Putting specific measures in place to help them avoid a relapse.
  • Meeting others with substance abuse problems, and gaining support and encouragement from them.

Perhaps you're a senior citizen with a substance abuse disorder. You may have given up hope for your recovery a long time ago. You may not have even known that there was a problem with your alcohol or drug use. As you can see, this is very common. You're also not alone. The issues that you're facing right now are normal for senior citizens. However, you need to know that you can recover.

What is the Outlook Like for Elderly Substance Abuse Recovery?

The outlook for senior citizens with substance abuse disorders is very good. As long as the right type of treatment is implemented, they can recover. You'll find that this will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

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Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment for Senior Citizens is Available

It's possible that you're reading this information because you are a senior with substance abuse disorder. Or, maybe you have an elderly loved one whom you suspect is abusing drugs or alcohol. Either way, you've been looking for answers. You may have known there was a problem for years, but you didn't know what to do about it. It's even possible that you've been living in denial about the issue.

There is power in knowledge. The more you know about seniors and substance abuse disorder, the better.

This is an issue that isn't going to go away. In fact, as more and more from the Baby Boom generation enter their senior years, it's only going to increase. The fact that you're taking the initiative right now proves that you are on the right track.

If you're in need of substance abuse treatment, it's important to choose the right facility. There are some drug rehabs and alcohol rehabs that offer specialized help for seniors. Here at Northpoint Recovery, we are one of those programs.

This time in your life should be so special. It isn't a time that should be clouded by drugs or alcohol. If alcohol abuse or drug abuse is something you're all too familiar with, we can help you. By providing you with targeted treatment, we can address your unique needs.

Perhaps you're in need of help for a loved one who is a senior with substance abuse disorder. If so, we can help you too.

We know how hard it is to watch someone you love decline so rapidly. To know that alcohol or drugs are to blame can break your heart. You're desperate to do something to help your loved one, and we can assist you immediately.

Are you interested in learning more about addiction treatment for the elderly with Northpoint Recovery? We're eager to answer any additional questions you might have for us. Please contact us right away.

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Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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