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Drug And Alcohol Addiction In The Elderly

Senior Citizens And Substance Addiction

Although it's not unpopular for an addiction later in life, the health effects of substance abuse for those over the age of 65 can be even more dangerous than in younger users.


In the UK, substance addiction among senior citizens is a constantly increasing health issue. 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 choices available to help you get back on a healthy track, it doesn't matter what your age is or when addiction began.


Dependence within individuals of 65 and over is normally underestimated and under-diagnosed, which can actually avoid them from receiving the assistance they urgently require.


Factors Of Abuse Among Senior Citizens

There are several things involved in contributing to someone turning to substance abuse later in life. These could turn out to be health-related concerns or life-changing situations that assume an emotional toll.

Drug-abusing behaviour that can cause a full-scale addiction may be triggered by these events. Pick up the phone and talk to us on 0800 246 1509 if you or a loved one is battling substance abuse.


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

  • Retirement
  • Death of spouse, a family member, pet or close friend.
  • Financial strains or loss of income
  • Relocation or transferring to a nursing home
  • Insomnia
  • Family conflict
  • Mental or physical health deterioration (depression, memory loss, major surgeries, etc.)

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The Risks Of Senior Citizens Drug Misuse

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

It is found out that drugs like Benzodiazepines pose dangerous risks to elderly. These are generously prescribed and highly addictive. Benzodiazepine addiction of elderly is found to have grown each year.


Individuals over 65 have an increased brain sensitivity to drugs or alcohol along with a decreased ability to metabolize them. Thus it is dangerous for seniors to use drugs or alcohol at all, even if the person isn't dependent.


Distinguishing Addiction In The Elderly

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

Thus it gets easier for doctors who experience an older patient to chalk up declining mental or physical health simply to "old age".


Signs Of Addiction In Senior Citizens

There is a decline in their mental health, physical health and personal relationships as people get older. It's important to pay attention to any unusual signs your elderly loved one displays, although addiction can be difficult to recognize in this demographic.

Below are few of the tricky signs of elderly addiction:

  • Memory troubles
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Feeling irritable, sad and depressed
  • Persistent aches or pains
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Wanting to be on your own most of the time
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Cutting off communication with family
  • Lack of interest in regular activities

It is crucial to search out a treatment centre that has particular experience working with seniors struggling with addiction, once an addiction is recognized.

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.


Elderly Addiction 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.