Drug and alcohol use generally tends to decrease after young adulthood, but researchers say substance abuse in the elderly is becoming more and more of a public health concern as the baby boom generation ages. Increasingly, senior populations are entering detox and residential treatment for alcohol abuse or pain pills.
According to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, 17 percent of adults in the United States over the age of 60 are struggling with their drinking and prescription drug use.
Unlike other age groups, senior citizen addicts are usually either those who have developed a problem later on in life or longtime substance abusers who have reached the age of 65. For the former, emotionally charged life events — such as the death of a spouse, a major change in finances, family conflicts, retirement or a move to assisted living facilities — could trigger problematic changes when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
The older population is also more likely to struggle with chronic pain — and be prescribed dangerous painkillers as a result.
Unfortunately, the negative side effects of addiction can be compounded in the elderly since those over 65 are more sensitive to alcohol and drugs. Older people lose the ability to efficiently metabolize both, leading to increased brain sensitivity to the substances.
Some common signs an addiction in an older person is spiraling out of control include cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, changes in eating or sleeping habits, hygiene-related issues, unexplained bruises and increased medication tolerance. A decreased sense of balance from drinking or drug use can result in serious injuries from falls.
If you or an elderly loved one is struggling with addiction, contact the highly trained professionals at SolutionPoint Behavioral Health to further explore if it’s time to take control of the situation by entering treatment.
Our team of experts will work with you to develop the best plan for you or your family and guide you through every step of the life-changing process.