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Increase in Older Addicts & Alcoholics Cause for Concern

Drug addiction isn’t a problem that is normally associated with senior citizens and the elderly. In fact, most studies regarding age and addiction focus on the age of first use and substance abuse among teens and young adults. Few people realize that there is a growing epidemic of senior citizens who are becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol after they are in their sixties. While the causes of this problem are varied, people of this age are naturally more susceptible to suffer lasting physical, mental and emotional damage that can be difficult to mitigate and control; even with proper treatment for addiction.

There are three general conditions under which people 60 or older form addictions to drugs or alcohol.

1.) Boredom/Change in Lifestyle

After working for a lifetime, many people find that they become bored after retirement. This is especially true for men, who often define themselves by what they accomplished in their busy careers. Faced with the prospect of long days filled with inactivity, picking up a drug or drinking can seem like an easy way to escape.

Conversely, some people in early retirement enter a stage of celebration that can last for years, with wine and liquor flowing freely during this time. Drinks with dinner can progress to drinks with lunch . . . and then mimosas with breakfast.

2.) Chronic Pain Management

Because of health problems that occur as we age, many people find themselves on regular regimens of pain medications, relaxants or sleep aids to treat conditions such as arthritis, insomnia, gout and other medical issues. Consistent use of these drugs invariably leads to physical dependence, and physical dependence often leads to outright addiction. And because these medications are prescribed by doctors, few people suspect there is a problem until it is too late and addiction has already set in.

3.) Grief, Depression and Mourning

The later years of retirement can lead to significant issues with depression, loneliness and grief as companions, spouses, friends and associates begin to pass away. Family members may be estranged, absent or simply preoccupied with busy lives. All of these issues can cause a person to turn to drugs or alcohol in order to self-medicate the pain they cause.

In addition to these causes of addiction and alcoholism in people over the age of 60, some former addicts or alcoholics may return to their previous ways once they enter retirement; Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can resurface at any time and without the proper management skills, disaster can occur.

Fortunately there are a number of options for elderly people who are suffering from addiction or alcoholism. These include:

  • Interventions
  • Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Day/Night Treatment
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy

If you’re recently retired and drugs or alcohol are beginning to play a prominent role in your life, you should call us right now. Addiction is a serious, progressive disease that can significantly reduce your life expectancy and the quality of your remaining years. Don’t let your golden years slip away – call for a free, confidential consultation 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