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Are You Ever Too Old to Get Sober?

Jan 18, 2023

Regardless of how long your loved one has had a drinking problem, there is no cutoff age for finally getting sober. Your loved one may have started abusing alcohol in the Sixties or Seventies and it’s a way of life, or they may have only become a heavy drinker recently after suffering a loss. Either way, recovery help is available for seniors like them in Florida.

Alcohol use disorders can threaten adults at any age, including retirement age.

Myths about older adults being beyond the reach of recovery help persist. As Hanley’s Chief of Research and Innovation, Dr. John Dyben explains, “We have a literal epidemic of addiction in the older-adult community. Unfortunately, addiction is far less likely to be recognized in the older-adult population. So we’re not talking about it, and we’re not addressing it.”

Late-onset addiction can develop following retirement, loss of a spouse, development of a disability or chronic condition, or numerous other factors. Addiction recovery help specifically designed for older adults is available in Florida at Hanley Center, where integrated medical, psychological, and psychiatric therapies can help your loved one begin recovery and improve their quality of life.  In this blog, let’s explore some of the myths around alcohol misuse in older adults that may keep them from getting the help they need.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

Myths about Drinking among Older Adults

Myth: My dad has been drinking since he was a teen, so he’s probably too old to change his ways.
Truth: Your dad is capable of working on sober goals, whether he’s 65, 75, or 85. Many of his peers have had success starting and staying in recovery.

Myth: My mom says drinking is the only good thing she’s got left, and I know it makes her happy.
Truth: Alcohol may be her way of handling anxiety or depression for a short time, but it’s not making her happy. Plus, she may feel guilty about her drinking habits and hide how much she’s consuming when you’re not around.

Myth: My dad tends to drink when he’s in pain, and he says it helps.
Truth: If your father is using pain medication daily and drinking alcohol, it may be putting him in a life-threatening situation as he becomes dehydrated, experiences respiratory issues, or loses consciousness.

Myth: My mom tells me she can drink the same amount of alcohol she’s always had as she gets older and still does not have a problem.
Truth: With less water in her body, alcohol can dehydrate her more quickly. Higher blood alcohol levels can lead to injuries from falls or other accidents. As a result of aging, alcohol gets metabolized more slowly by the liver, so it stays in her system longer.

Myth: My mom says she’s way too old to become an alcoholic now.
Truth: Older age brings with it new factors for someone to develop an alcohol use disorder. It may be tied to drinking to deal with chronic health issues, loss of independence, loss of a loved one, or other significant life changes. These may include retirement, disability, ongoing pain, and stress.

Myth: Not having much longer to live is why my dad wants to keep drinking.
Truth: The focus on the quality of life, not quantity of years left, should always come first for a person of any age who needs recovery help.

Benefits of Treatment for Alcohol Abuse in Older Adults

“The myth is that somehow addiction is comfortable in older age. At any age, addiction is a living hell. This belief that it’s comfortable lets us rest in this idea that the problem doesn’t belong in this population.” Dr. Dyben emphasizes recovery among older adults as a critical form of dignity when he says seniors, like any other group, “are worthy and deserving of not mere existence but of the highest possible quality of life.”

Helping your parent start a recovery program can have lasting benefits for them and your whole family. Not only does treatment help them live longer and in better health, but it can also create stronger bonds within the family. The way you respond to your parent’s recovery needs also can shape how the younger generation in your family view addiction and mental health needs.

Six Benefits of Treatment for Alcohol Abuse in Older Adults

1. Your loved one gets to spend sober time with you that they will remember.
2. The risk of their becoming hurt (or worse) is lowered.
3. They restore some of their independence when staying in recovery.
4. They save money formerly spent on purchasing wine, liquor, or beer.
5. They may be able to participate in more family activities and attend gatherings regularly.
6. They can create deeper connections with grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their remaining years.

Recovery Help for Older Adults Is Available at Hanley Center

Age-specific treatment can be highly beneficial for older adults who have much more in common with each other than with young adults in recovery. Adults over age 60 share similar experiences, draw from memories of the same eras and tend to have more success in rehab programs as a whole. Not seeking help for alcohol use doesn’t mean your loved one is unaware of their problem. Also, they may buy into the myths that they’re untreatable at an advanced age. As Dr. John Dyben explains, “these myths are causing millions of older adults in our country to suffer in silence today.” Ending this silence can be as simple as calling Hanley Center and speaking to an admissions specialist today.

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness.
For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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