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Dependence In The Elderly

Substance Addiction Among Senior Citizens

Drug abusers aged 65 and above are prone to more risks and it may be surprising but addiction is common even at this age.


Substance and alcohol misuse amidst the senior is a quickly developing health issue within the United States. According to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, drug misuse within older citizens can be grouped into two general types: the "hardy survivor," or those who have been misusing drugs for several years and have attained 65, and the "late onset" squad, which is those who develop dependence at a later stage in life. There are treatment options available to help you get back on a healthy path, regardless of how old you are or when your addiction started.


Undercalculation and under diagnosis of addiction among people 65 and up can limit them from receiving the support they require.


Factors Of Addiction In The Elderly

There are several things involved in contributing to someone turning to substance abuse later in life. These could be health problems or life-altering occurrences which lead to a psychological burden.

Drug-abusing behaviour may be provoked by these events that can result in a full-scale addiction. Please give us a call on 0800 246 1509 today, if you or someone you know is battling with addiction problems later in life and requires assistance searching for a treatment program.


Some of the reasons that provoke senior citizens to begin substance abuse are:

  • Retirement
  • Death of a close family member, spouse, friend or a pet.
  • Loss of income or financial stress
  • Resettlement or placement in a nursing home
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Family fights
  • Health deterioration (depression, memory loss, major surgeries, etc.)

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The Risk Of Elderly Substance Abuse

The human body becomes more vulnerable to the ill effects of drugs as it grows older.

Benzodiazepines are probably the most hazardous prescription substances for elderly, even though they are generally used to treat pain, anxiety and sleeping issues. They are extremely addictive and easily prescribed. Every year the rate of senior citizens addicted to benzos increases.


Senior citizens have a decreased ability to metabolize drugs or alcohol along with an increased brain sensitivity to them. The mere intake of drugs of alcohol in excess is already risky enough at this age.


How To Recognize Addiction In The Elderly

Alcohol or substance misuse may actually resemble signs of other medical or mental health illnesses, like diabetes, dementia or depression.

It makes it simpler for doctors who come across an older patient to attribute deteriorating mental or physical health simply to "old age".


Symptoms Of Dependency In Senior Citizens

This may not always be true but together with mental and physical health, relationships of older persons also decline. The task of recognizing the real symptoms of abuse among elderly can be tricky but it pays to be a little more keen to their behaviour or demeanour.

Some symptoms of senior citizen drug abuse you should pay attention to are:

  • Memory loss or gap
  • Erratic sleeping habits
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Depression, irritability, sadness,
  • Undetermined chronic pain
  • Eating disorder
  • Desire to be left alone
  • Undesirable hygiene
  • Getting out of contact with family and friends
  • Lack of interest in regular activities

It is imperative to ask professional assistance from experts once substance abuse is confirmed or recognized among elderly.

Since individuals over 65 particularly are devoid of the social support needed throughout recovery, so you should search for programs that specialize in this kind of addiction and also provide case management services. The continued healthy lifestyle is allowed after the treatment with these case management services that provide the elderly with access to medical, psychiatric, and social resources.


Senior Citizen Misuse Statistics

The high rate at which individuals 65 years and older are forming addictions to several substances is surely cause for concern and something that should not be neglected by healthcare professionals, caretakers or family members.