According to surveys, senior addiction is one common issue among the elderly. We think that alcohol and drug addiction are prevalent among young individuals. But addiction can influence both young and adults, and worse even the senior citizens. You may wonder why adults become addicted to alcohol or substance. Substance dependency may occur later in life. But some adults remain addicted since they are young.
The problem is senior addiction is risky because it can lead to more serious health conditions. Older adults have been hospitalized because of heart attacks. But the cause is alcohol addiction. With this, it makes sense to know how inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers can help the elderly get out of the vicious cycle.
Seniors and Addiction
The statistics of seniors dependent on alcohol and drug is increasing in number. The manifestations differ from the young ones. That is why it is overlooked and misdiagnosed most of the time. Addiction among the elderly can be a problem and can cause life-threatening consequences, such as:
- Physical health problems
- Potential drug overdose
- Accidental injuries
- Memory loss
To avoid such consequences, we should not ignore senior addiction. If you notice anyone from the family into substance abuse, take immediate action to intervene in the problem.
Causes of Addiction in Older Adults
Intervening substance abuse among the elderly is difficult. You must understand well the situation. It is because you may misinterpret the symptoms of addiction. The symptoms are sometimes similar to increasing illness or advanced aging. With this, it is essential to identify the causes of the situation.
There are different reasons seniors indulge in the addiction to alcohol or substance.
Separation From Loved Ones
One of the biggest struggles of seniors is being separated from loved ones. When the children have their own family, they separate living from their parents. The demise of a spouse or anyone from the family can cause loneliness and sorrow to an older person. Most of the time, dealing with loneliness becomes a big deal and struggling for them. With this, they thought abusing alcohol or intoxicating substance help them overcome the loneliness.
Major Life Changes
Major and sudden changes in life are another reason the elderly succumb to addiction. Retiring from work makes a person bored. He may be overwhelmed with the time doing nothing at all. Transitions from anything cause uncertainty and stress to older adults. Thus, they look for other ways to relieve what they feel.
As we get older, we often feel significant stress. Most adults find it difficult to cope with this stage in life because of limited physical movement. It may aggravate the coping ability and lead to stress.
Signs That a Senior is Struggling With an Addiction
Identifying the signs of senior addiction is challenging. As mentioned above, the signs are similar to those with aging. Older adults may become physically inactive, neglect hygiene, and have difficulty sleeping at night. Those can lead to anxiety and depression. If in doubt that your loved one is into addiction, here are some signs to consider.
- Habitual drinking at home, even when alone, is a sign that an older adult is addicted to alcohol.
- Lack of interest in regular activities results from indulging in any form of addiction.
- Frequent trips to medical providers are possible when a senior depends on alcohol or substance addiction. Abusing alcohol or intoxicating drugs is harmful to health.
- Using substances in private is proof of abusing prohibited substances.
- Confusion or memory loss is a sign that the brain is not functioning well. Rule out the cause, as it may result from abusing too much alcohol or any substance.
Dangers of Addiction in the Elderly
Addiction poses danger to anyone regardless of age. The results can be more serious for older adults. Substance or alcohol abuse causes severe effects on our health, especially the liver that metabolizes and detoxifies the drugs and alcohol. Physical damage is not only the result but also the psychological effects.
When a Senior Needs Addiction Treatment
We should not overlook addiction among older adults. It may be difficult to encourage them to stop the abuse, and the least thing we can do is to help them undergo treatment. It is essential to understand that addiction treatment is possible regardless of age. The key is to stop depending on alcohol or any substance and get back to a healthy life.
There are treatment programs tailored to older adults. The best thing to do is to reduce the effects of addiction. Seeking professional help is essential because they know the right thing to do to intervene in the problem. Usually, treatment starts with supervised detox.
Staging an Intervention for an Elderly Addict
According to a survey, 5.2% of adults 50 years and up indulged in alcohol and substance abuse. An intervention is necessary to stop the abuse, but it must be well planned and executed properly. The intervention has different stages and comprises a team of professionals. Likewise, family members and close friends are encouraged to join in the intervention process.
The intervention approach should be in a way that is not overwhelming or embarrassing. Keep in mind to avoid addressing the person as an addict. Always use the right word so that the individual will cooperate with the process.
Understanding the situation is essential to help seniors get out of addiction. Confrontation and blaming would not help to intervene in the problem. Family members are significant support for a successful intervention process. But seeking help from professionals may be the best thing to do if the situation is beyond your ability. Assisted living communities for couples can also help prevent addiction among older adults.
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