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Drug Rehab: Getting Help for an Elderly Addict

Drug rehab is possibly the only way for elderly addicts to achieve lasting sobriety and fully enjoy their years in retirement. Young people may become addicted to cocaine, meth, and other “street” drugs more often than the elderly, but many drug rehab patients are senior citizens hooked on alcohol, prescription medications, and even marijuana. In fact, the elderly have several unique problems which heighten their risks for addictive behaviors. Here are a few of the reasons why older people may suffer substance abuse problems and require drug rehab.

Old Habits

Laypeople and even medical professionals have not always realized that addiction is a neurological disease – not just a set of habits or a matter of choice. Many of today’s elderly people became addicted to alcohol or other drugs in their younger years and have maintained active use for decades. Their addictive behaviors become more ingrained the longer they remain untreated, and change is extremely difficult once they reach old age. Intensive inpatient treatment is crucial for helping elderly addicts change their ways.

Less Responsibility

Addiction has devastating effects on people’s careers and family lives, and these personal responsibilities may be many people’s main reasons for avoiding drug use. However, seniors tend to have far less responsibility in their day-to-day lives than younger people. They are usually retired, and their children have homes and families of their own. Overall, older people tend to have a great deal of free time and may perceive few consequences in abusing alcohol or prescription drugs – especially when they can be obtained legally.


Drug rehab facilities place great emphasis on helping their patients make new friends and repair damaged relationships. Likewise, a lack of close human connection can easily drive people to abuse drugs. Elderly people usually have static or shrinking social circles. Their children start families and move away, their friends may die, and one spouse often outlives the other by a decade or more. Older addicts who have few friends or close family members have a particularly great need for drug addiction treatment.

Age-Related Depression

Even seniors who have living spouses and plenty of friends may suffer from depression – a common cause of addictive behaviors. They may feel that their lives contain nothing new, or nothing to look forward to. This is especially true for elderly people whose children live far from them, and who no longer play prominent roles in their families. Some older people seek fulfillment in volunteer work or other healthy outlets, but others turn to drugs and alcohol to fill the voids in their lives.

Chronic Pain

Elderly people often experience a great deal of physical degradation in the last two or three decades of their lives. Even those who maintain healthy habits throughout adulthood may still suffer from joint pain, muscle inflammation, and a variety of other chronic and severe physical problems. It is therefore common for seniors to have legal access to powerful painkillers – substances which are dangerously habit-forming. Addiction to Oxycontin, Vicodin, and other prescription opiates is common among elderly people, and clinical drug rehab is the only way to get clean.

If you know an elderly person suffering from drug addiction, or if you have substance abuse problems of your own, you need to take action now. Call the number at the top of your screen to talk to one our addiction specialists about a powerful drug rehab program that could change your life starting right now.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More