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Drug Abuse in Older Adults

Drug abuse doesn’t discriminate between age, sex, race, location, or even economic status. Drug abuse can happen to anyone including older adults; in fact drug abuse in older adults has more than doubled from 2.7 percent to 6.2 percent between 2002 and 2009.

The rise in drug abuse in older adults may have something to do with the fact that the older adults today were the well-known and iconic baby boomers who lived through the 60s, 70s and 80s. There are many different factors that play into drug abuse in older adults but social and physical changes can leave older adults especially vulnerable to drug abuse issues. For instance, the loss of loved ones, retirement or job changes, changes in income, and juggling multiple roles can cause some older adults to begin engaging in drug abuse.

Older adults also tend to be prescribed medication or use prescription drugs as a way to self-medicate things like anxiety or depression and while they may not be using it to party like their teen counterparts they are still abusing the substances. Unfortunately drug abuse in older adults also tends to have a bigger impact on their physical and mental health in comparison to the younger generations. Older adults have a slower metabolism and this can increase their sensitivity to drugs and the effects drug abuse has on them.

Luckily drug abuse in older adults is just as easily treated as in anyone else the only struggle is getting older adults into treatment. Many older adults resist going into a drug and alcohol treatment program for help with drug abuse. They may be too ashamed to admit that they have a problem or to seek help on their own. Some families have to use an intervention method to get their loved one help for their drug abuse. Once older adults are in drug and alcohol treatment they are more successful at getting and staying sober. Many older adults in treatment for drug abuse feel as if it is their last shot to “get it right.”

Other older adults have plenty to motivate them to get sober and stay sober such as their children and grandchildren; they have the want to create a positive lasting legacy for and with their family. Most older adults benefit from a drug abuse treatment program that is specifically designed for older adults but that doesn’t have to be the case. It is true though that older adults do have different needs, different issues, and different ways of recovering than younger individuals but as long as a drug treatment center involves people of all ages most older adults can find someone they are similar in age too and relate.

Drug abuse in older adults is not something that should be overlooked or underestimated. Most of us when we think of drug abuse don’t usually think of our parents or grandparents but they can suffer too and if that is the case they also can benefit from the help provided by a drug abuse treatment center.

If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2011/12/substance-abuse-among-older-adults

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