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Age and Addiction

The differences between young adults and old adults are copious. I mean from their looks, to the generation they grew up in and even in something as tangible as age; they are different. There are also differences in young adults and older adults when it comes to addiction and recovery. And why wouldn’t there be when everything even down to the physical body and brain is different?

This is Age and Addiction: Young Adults vs. Older Adults

Older Adults and Their Addiction

According to a report by SAMHSA or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration the levels of addiction among adults over 50 are increasing.  These people are known as the baby boomers and they came from an age of drug-friendly culture in the 1960s and 70s that gives them little to no qualms about popping pills in order to deal with anything including the emotional stress of aging. Older adults are more vulnerable to booze and drugs for a number of reasons: because of the way metabolism slows with age; because of coexisting medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or psychological problems; because many older adults live in isolated situations without structure, which allows them to drink or use without anyone else noticing; and because of the ways alcohol and drugs can interact with medications used to manage those problems.

So while the prescription painkiller epidemic may be limited to news about young adults overdosing, the truth is older adults are just as easily susceptible to an addiction. And recovery, well the older adults may be more docile and compliant than their younger addicted counterparts, but they still have their struggles to stay sober; struggles which are totally unique to them.

Older Adults and Their Recovery

While it may seem like that older adults would be more responsible or that they would recognize the severity of their situation, they do to a certain extent, they suffer from the disease of addiction. And the same fears that drive every addict to use again; drive older adults to use. Many older adults have an overwhelming fear of growing old and being alone. This can exacerbate their addiction and cause them to relapse or be incapable of staying sober. Also, older adults have a hard time getting into recovery. Many times the feelings of guilt and shame associated with going to treatment or detox are too overwhelming. Older adults, some, grew up learning that alcoholics were the people under the bridge and don’t believe that to be them or don’t want to admit to having the same problem. This, or older adults find it especially shameful for a grandmother to have an addiction so they won’t ask for help.

When older adults want recovery though they usually tend to get it and there are no qualms about being an addict once they admit to being one. Usually it takes some kind of event though to get them to admit it such as a fall, injury, blackouts etc. Regardless many older adults find they are able to hang onto recovery once they want it bad enough. These are many addicts and alcoholic’s stories regardless of their age.

Young Adults and Their Addiction

In today’s world of drug use and drinking, many young adults find themselves with a full blown addiction at a very young age. Where older adults begin an addiction later in life, young adults are the exact opposite. Without needing many years of drugs and drinking, due to the nature of the drugs and the way they are used, many young adults find themselves in rehab before even legal drinking age of 21. This can lead to much success if they find sobriety early but it also can cause many problems later on down the road. For instance, for some it is believed that trips to rehab at a young age when the addiction is just beginning or hasn’t been going on for very long, can actually turn into some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy where the young adults end up worse off in their addiction than ever before.

Young Adults and Their Recovery

Often times there are young adults that end up in rehab after a very short period of drug use and drinking. This can lead to misunderstanding and the inability to admit that they are addicts: the misunderstanding of other older alcoholics and addicts; and their inability to admit to themselves they are addicts due to the fact that their drug use wasn’t as bad as those older addicts. There is also the lack of maturity that goes along with being young adults. It is believed by some that going to rehab or even a 12 step fellowship is unnecessary for young addicts because they can just “mature out” and “grow out of it”. Which may or may not be the case? Either way young adults face a slew of obstacles when it comes to their recovery including the identification process as well as the sometimes sideways glances from older members of recovery.

Whatever the obstacles are to get sober, young or old, the truth is if you want to get sober you can. And a big part of that is the need or want to. Nothing has to hold anyone back, not even age, from grasping their addiction and alcoholism and beginning on the road to recovery. If there’s a young adult or older adult in your life that needs help, give us a call at 800-951-6135.

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