Elderly Drug Addiction and Treatment

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Colorado Senior Addiction Treatment Center

Many people think of college students or even teenagers when they think of people with addictions. But addiction does not discriminate. It is becoming increasingly more common for elderly people to struggle with drug addiction or alcohol abuse.

Elderly people are becoming addicted to their pain medications as well as to other drugs and medications. While they may start taking the medications for legitimate mental or medical issues, that does not mean that such drugs are any less addictive. There have been some elderly people who have had addictions for a long time, but they may show more signs of addiction as they grow older. If you are a senior citizen and have an addiction, it is important to know you can find and receive addiction treatment help today.

Drug addictions later in life may be more dangerous than addictions in younger people. This is because people’s metabolisms often slow down as they get older. When older people ingest substances, their slower metabolisms do not filter substances as well as younger people’s bodies. The substances may linger in the body longer, which is why some elderly people experience accidental overdoses even when ingesting relatively smaller amounts of the substances.

Aging and Drug Addiction

Since the elderly population can be quite wise with a wealth of life experiences, it can make it more difficult to admit that they might have drug addictions. If you are a senior with a drug addiction, there are programs and places that may help you find the road to recovery. If you recognize someone else in the elderly community with a drug addiction, know that you can offer them support and guide them to treatment as well.

Aging may produce factors that encourage people to abuse drugs and medications. During this time, the body’s metabolism slows down and people may experience chronic illnesses, losses in mobility, the deaths of loved ones, and conditions such as depression. The emotional and physical pains that come along with aging may push seniors into abusing drugs. In addition, not all physicians have not been educated about how to recognize drug addiction in elderly people.

Older people may be taking multiple medications and struggling with physical problems or confusion, so they may be at a higher risk for misusing their prescription medications. Because people may not expect them to use drugs or because their addiction may resemble other conditions, it may be possible for elderly people to use illicit drugs without being detected. If this use progresses, it can be dangerous.

As more and more medications are becoming available to treat the aches and pains that seniors may experience, there are more elderly people who are taking medications to relieve their pain and alter their moods. There are also more seniors who are abusing recreational drugs as well. But again, drug addiction does not discriminate. People of all ages, including seniors, are susceptible to drug addiction or misuse.

More than one million people sixty-five years old or older had a substance use disorder in the United States in 2014. Given the large numbers of older adults and the large volumes of prescription and illegal drugs, the numbers may climb even higher.

Emotional Causes of Elderly Drug Addiction

A number of emotional and environmental conditions may contribute to elderly drug addiction as well. Some of these causes include:

  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Grief

These are just some of the emotional and environmental causes of elderly drug addiction. There are many others that may occur as well.

Mental and Physical Addiction Symptoms

It should also be noted that elderly people may display mental or physical symptoms of addiction. Unfortunately, other people may dismiss these symptoms as signs of normal aging. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Less interest in appearance
  • Sleep problems

While these could be signs that someone is getting older, they may be also signs of an elderly drug addiction. This is why it is often difficult to tell whether someone in this age group is having a problem with alcohol or drug use.

It is important to seek treatment for a drug addiction, no matter what age someone may be. It is especially important for people in this age group. Elderly drug users may encounter other addiction-related health complications that may not be problems for younger addicts. There are treatment programs for elderly drug addicts, just as there are different types of treatments for different members of the population.

Behaviors of Prescription Medication Abuse

There are certain behaviors that may signify that someone is misusing or abusing prescription medications. Some of the behaviors may include the following:

  • Forging, selling, or stealing prescriptions
  • Obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors
  • Telling doctors that you lost your prescription to try to obtain other prescriptions
  • Taking a higher dose than has been prescribed to you
  • Making poor decisions while taking prescription medications
  • Appearing high or full of energy
  • Feeling or looking highly sedated

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These are just some of the behaviors of people who are misusing or abusing their medications. If you have been misusing or abusing your prescription medications or know someone who has been exhibiting those behaviors, there are treatment programs available.

More Exposure to Drugs

If you are suffering from a drug addiction, you probably did not set out to abuse drugs on purpose. Treatment center professionals know this. If you are in the elderly community and you have access to prescription medications, there is always the potential to abuse these drugs. People who are sixty-five years old and older use about one-third of all the prescription medications dispensed throughout the United States.

While one prominent aspect of addiction is the access to drugs, there is another problem. The problem is that older people often use more prescription medications than people in other age groups. They may forget that they took a dose and take another. Many elderly individuals are prescribed pain medications or tranquilizing medications. According to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the elderly receive nearly seventeen million prescriptions for tranquilizer medications every year.

Signs of Elderly Drug Abuse

There are some drug addiction signs that may be identified very easily in younger adults and teens. People may overlook these same signs in the elderly population. Some of the overlooked signs of drug addiction in the elderly may include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Sleeping issues
  • Health complaints
  • Sensitivity
  • Bruising easily or unexplained bruising
  • Blackouts
  • Isolation
  • Absentmindedness
  • Hiding pills or lying about using drugs
  • Mental health issues
  • Sadness
  • Awkward behavior when discussing drug use
  • Distress

These are some of the symptoms that are often dismissed as signs of normal aging. They could be signs of a drug addiction as well.

Rehab Drug Treatment for Seniors

If you are a senior with a drug addiction or you know someone else with an addiction, you can find the help you need. There is hope for recovery. One of the first things you can do is to admit that you need assistance in overcoming the addiction. After doing that, you can reach out and find help to enroll into an addiction treatment program that fits your recovery needs.

You can start your search for a drug rehab center program by contacting a program or by talking with your doctor. Let people know that you need help to find the assistance you need. Many elderly people think they need to quit taking all their medications when they have an addiction. This may not be the case. You can discuss this concern and others with your prescribing doctor or addiction rehab center doctors.

Many seniors — and many people in general — do not want to admit that they are struggling with addiction. They feel ashamed, embarrassed, or do not know how to ask for help. These are common feelings people experience when they struggle with an addiction. People should know that they are not alone. An addiction is a disease. Like many diseases, it may take some time to recover from addiction. With the help of addiction treatment professionals, you can find the help you need. There are many different treatment options that might fit your needs.

Some elderly people who suffer from an a drug addiction also worry about going to inpatient addiction treatment programs. But inpatient treatment programs are often the most effective option for elderly people who have an addiction to drugs.

People participating in these problems can obtain proper medical supervision. Treatment center staff members will help their clients focus on themselves as a whole. They will help clients with their addiction issues, health issues, personal issues, and more. If people want to experience effective progress during their recovery process, inpatient rehab is more than likely the best route to take.

Choosing the Right Senior Drug Rehab Program

Experts recommend inpatient drug rehab center programs for seniors who struggle with drug addiction. While not every residential center is the same, the best residential centers offer an array of options to treat diverse clients with diverse needs.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, effective residential drug rehab centers may offer the following:

  • Age-specific programs (such as treatment for seniors)
  • Flexible programs to fit their clients’ recovery needs
  • Comprehensive approaches to treatment, including the treatment of social, emotional, physical, and mental issues

If you are a senior and looking for treatment for a drug addiction, consider programs that offer those options.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated that many seniors would prefer to obtain their drug rehab treatment as part of their primary health treatment closer to their home. It can be scary to leave home as an elderly patient. If you are looking into drug rehab treatment, but do not want to travel far from home, you should know there are many addiction rehab centers near you.

Such treatment centers can help you with all of your addiction recovery needs. In addition to inpatient treatment programs, there are outpatient addiction treatment programs as well. If you reach out today, you can find the proper treatment program that suits you. Make the call today.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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