Drug and Alcohol Rehab For Seniors

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Although we typically associate substance abuse with adolescents, young adults, and the middle-aged, the phenomenon also exists among senior citizens. What’s more, with an aging population in the US and throughout the Western world, addiction among seniors is a rising phenomenon. Drug abuse among senior citizens poses unique risks and challenges due to factors like age-related physical changes, potential interactions with medications, and the presence of other health conditions. In this article, we will delve further into the subject of addiction among seniors, and then assess the options of drug and alcohol rehab for seniors.

Statistics of Substance Abuse in the Elderly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that:

  • Over 5,000 people ages 65 and over in the U.S. died of a drug overdose in 2020, and more than twice that amount (11,616) died of alcohol-induced causes.
  • Death rates from drug overdoses among people 65 and over have more than tripled over the past two decades (2.4 deaths per 100,000 people ages 65 and over in 2000 vs. 8.8 in 2020), with faster rates of increase for men than women.
  • Alcohol-induced death rates in the 65+ population have been increasing since 2011 and rose more than 18% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have had a big impact on the older population as well. Death rates from these drugs increased 53% from 2019 to 2020 among people aged 65 and over.
  • A 2019 study of patients over the age of 50 noted that more than 25% who misuse prescription opioids or benzodiazepines expressed suicidal ideation, compared to 2% of those who do not use them.

Taking multiple medications at a time is one of the major factors that can lead to drug misuse. As many senior citizens take a number of prescription drugs and dietary supplements for various health conditions, it’s easy for them to get confused. Having multiple drugs that need to be taken in different quantities and at different times makes it easy for individuals to make mistakes and misuse or overdose on drugs. In addition, being prescribed multiple medications leads to a higher rate of exposure to potentially addictive substances. These issues have given the rise for the need of substance abuse treatment for older adults. 

Identifying Substance Abuse and Addiction in the Older Population 

Addiction in seniors can be challenging to identify, as the signs may be attributed to other health issues or aging-related changes. However, some common signs of addiction in seniors include: 

Behavioral Changes: Sudden mood swings, increased irritability or agitation, isolation from friends and family, and loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Physical Changes: Changes in personal hygiene, unexplained weight loss or gain, decline in overall physical health, coordination problems, or unsteady gait.

Cognitive Changes: Memory problems, confusion or disorientation, difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

Financial Issues: Unexplained financial problems despite having a stable income, frequent requests for money, or financial assistance.

Neglect of Responsibilities: Neglect of personal, household, or financial responsibilities, decline in work performance, or neglect of daily tasks.

Social Withdrawal: Loss of interest in social activities or hobbies, isolation from friends and family, avoidance of social gatherings.

Changes in Sleep Patterns: Insomnia or excessive sleeping, disrupted sleep patterns.

Medical Issues: Increased tolerance to medications and frequent visits to multiple doctors or pharmacies.

Secrecy or Defensiveness: Hiding substances or evidence of substance use, becoming defensive or secretive about activities.

Loss of Interest in Personal Appearance: Neglect of personal hygiene, grooming, and appearance. 

It’s important to note that these signs can also be indicative of other health issues common in seniors, such as depression, dementia, or physical ailments. However, if you suspect that you or one of your loved ones is struggling with addiction in thier older age, dont hesitate to reach out to us at Avenues Recovery to hear about our senior addiction treatment options.

 Senior Addiction Treatment Programs:

Drug rehab for seniors works in a pretty similar way to regular rehab, giving plenty options for rehab for the elderly. Senior addiction treatment includes the following rehab options: detox, residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient. 

Several factors can put a senior citizen at greater risk of substance abuse, but also act as logistical barriers that may prevent them from receiving treatment. These include: 

  • Social and emotional factors: Loss of loved ones, transitions in living or care situations, feeling socially isolated, and not knowing where to go for help.
  • Financial factors: Forced retirement or change in income, resulting in being unable to afford care.
  • Physical and medical factors: Chronic pain, poor health status, chronic illness, taking many medicines and supplements, physical disabilities, or reduced mobility which limits access to medical care.
  • Psychiatric factors: Avoidance coping style, history of substance use disorders, previous or current mental illness.

 These factors are compounded by the stigma surrounding addiction and worry over what other people will think - which is much more pronounced among seniors than younger people. This, in turn, means that seniors with substance abuse issues may be less likely to seek treatment promptly, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment of health conditions.

Drug Rehab For the Elderly: How it Works

Treatment programs will address all of the factors that led to substance abuse in the first place. Addressing all physical and mental factors includes diagnosing and treating other chronic conditions so that if the addiction occurs alongside another mental health condition, both will receive attention. It will also ensure that the individual can access the necessary medical services. Addressing the social and emotional factors involves rebuilding support networks so that the individual has a social structure in place of people they can turn to for help and assistance.

Although most people with substance use problems don’t die from overdoses, the health consequences can be severe. Impaired judgment, coordination, and reaction time resulting from drug use can cause injuries, such as falls and motor vehicle crashes. Substance abuse can also exacerbate existing health issues common in older adults, such as cardiovascular problems, liver disease, and compromised immune function. In addition, it can contribute to cognitive decline, increasing the risk of dementia in older adults, and can also weaken the immune system, making seniors more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

It's crucial to recognize the signs of substance abuse in seniors early and seek care before things worsen.

If you are a senior citizen struggling with drug addiction or have a loved one who is, know that you are not alone. Reach out to us at Avenues Recovery to learn more about what drug rehab for elderly options are available to you. Our experienced and highly professional addiction counselors have helped thousands of people of all ages and stages, and they can help you too! Don’t allow shame or fear to hold you back from living thelife you deserve. Contact us today to take your first step to a brighter, better and addiction-free future.

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