We often look to our grandparents and older loved ones as the standard of wisdom with reference to all of their life experiences. Yet the truth of the matter is that our elders are just as susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction as younger generations. Addiction does not discriminate, which means that anyone at any age could become the next victim to the insidiousness of drug and alcohol abuse.
As bodies begin to age, the need for medical attention becomes more prevalent. People from the age of 57 may develop an increased need to use prescription medication for their ailments due to aging. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that three out of ten elders from the age of 57 to 85 average five prescription medications, making this age group use the most prescription medications on average.
Why Does Elder Addiction Happen?
An aging person’s body does not have the ability to absorb or filter medications the same as a younger body does. Medications can elicit side effects in the body and creates an increased chance of becoming addicted due to lower tolerance. Also, taking more than the prescribed dosage or taking the pills “as needed” can cause addiction. Improper usage of prescribed substances can be detrimental when an aging person frequently uses these drugs for relief.
How Can I Tell if There Is Elder Addiction?
Opioids and benzodiazepines are common prescriptions given to older patients to treat pain, insomnia, and anxiety, while also being extremely addictive for any age group. Unfortunately, addiction in elders can be overlooked because aging and addiction often mimic one another.
Someone who is getting older may fall more often, act disoriented, or appear confused. Someone drunk or high will demonstrate the same symptoms of falling and looking disconcerted, so differentiating the two can take some discernment.
If you see that your elder loved one cannot go anywhere without their medication, all they talk about is their pills, seem angry and withdrawn, or are getting the same medicines from several doctors, you may need to intervene. Consult with a doctor or a therapist to assist you in handling the addiction with your elder loved one.
The chances are that your loved one will be more likely to go to treatment if they are properly addressed in a manner of compassion instead of being criticized or made to feel like they cannot take care of themselves. They need you to advocate for their recovery so that they have a chance to get sober.
Valiant Living offers a continuum of care that is effective in assisting someone in gaining long-term sobriety. Our treatment culture is about building unity for those who have suffered enough from their drug and alcohol addiction. Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, we offer “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Valiant Living fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. Call us today for more information at (303) 536-5463.