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Substance Abuse and its Effects on Older Adults

Dec 10, 2020

Substance abuse among older adults is a multigenerational issue affecting adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As one of the adult children of an elder with a new alcohol or drug problem, you may be surprised when a loved one with no history of abuse suddenly develops one in their senior years. Getting a diagnosis and treatment for them is important, and today we will share some information and ideas that can help.  In this article, we outline the risks and impact of substance abuse with older adults and seniors, as well as how Hanley Center works to help those seniors in need of treatment.

Substance abuse among older adults is more common than you might think and can go undiagnosed in seniors who regularly see their doctor. Symptoms of substance use can look similar to the effects of aging or mental health issues.

Older adults who misuse medications, including mixing them with alcohol, risk:

  • Fall and injuries
  • Disrupting their sleep
  • Affecting their memory
  • Losing interest in self-care.

Recommended addiction treatment for older adults should involve:

  • Age-specific groups and therapies
  • Medical care
  • Therapies for co-occurring disorders
  • Support for family members
  • Continuing care planning

Alcohol & Drug Use Among Older Adults at Hanley Center

Let’s focus for a moment on the causes of addiction in older adults and what types of substances may be involved. Life changes can be a factor, from retirement to a death in the family or the loss of a spouse or partner. Elders may feel unable to cope with the emotions and physical effects of these changes and begin to drink more often or drink higher amounts of alcohol. They may begin misusing prescription medications and over-the-counter products, such as sleeping pills, decongestants, and painkillers.

Prevalence Among Substance Abuse in Seniors at Hanley Center

The treatment team at Hanley Center routinely works with seniors living with substance use disorders. It’s not uncommon for a treatment group to have seniors whose substance use is new as well as peers of theirs who have a long history of using drugs or alcohol. Some of these men and women have been in treatment multiple times, and benefit from a program designed to meet the needs of their age group. Others are approaching treatment for the first time and can be less “guarded” in an environment of their peers.

How Hanley Center Understands Increased Health Problems and Risk Factors

The treatment team at Hanley Center recognizes how drugs and alcohol affect an older age group differently. We understand the increased sensitivity in the brain of older adults, more serious risks of injuries from falls and other accidents, changes in how aging affects the metabolism of drugs and alcohol, and many other factors. The training, education, and experience of our addiction specialists ensure older adults with substance use disorders are always getting the highest level of care available.

Treatment of Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults at Hanley Center

Elders with drug and alcohol problems can be helped with a thorough treatment plan. Medical detox to help go through the withdrawal process is a first step. Hanley Center also offers dual diagnosis treatment for older adults who may have co-occurring mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress. Family support is essential during this time, too. Hanley Center offers a five-day family program to provide support and education for anyone connected to a patient in treatment. Looking beyond a program is an important piece of any recovery plan. At Hanley Center, your loved one can benefit from help in planning for continuing care as a way to keep their recovery going.

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 addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-501-4673.

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