If a person is older than 65 and has a substance addiction, which is not unheard of, the health consequences can be a lot more hazardous than with younger addicts.
In the UK, substance addiction among senior citizens is a constantly increasing health issue. Drug and alcohol abuse among elderly is, according to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, classified in a couple of general groups: the "late onset" addicts, which is a group that developed the addiction in their older years, and "hardy survivor" which is a term for addicts that have been abusing drug or alcohol for a longer period and have turned 65 in the meantime. Help and treatment can be taken advantage by elderly addicts in spite of their age.
Addiction among people 65 and up is often under-diagnosed and underestimated, which can stop them from getting the help they need.
Causes Of Addiction In Senior Citizens
Many things could lead to someone turning to substance abuse later in life. These could be life-changing events or health-related issues that take an emotional toll.
Drug-abusing behaviour that can cause a full-scale addiction may be triggered by these events. Please call us now on 0800 772 3971 if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction issues later in life and need help finding a treatment program.
Here are some of the probable reasons why elderly are resorting to substance abuse:
Death of someone close, or a pet.
Loss of income or financial issues
Resettlement or placement in a nursing home
Fights in the family
Mental or physical health decline (depression, amnesia, life-threatening operations, etc.)
Substance or alcohol misuse among the older individuals particularly very risky because elderly people are highly vulnerable to the dropping consequences of these drugs.
Some of the most dangerous prescription drugs for seniors are Benzodiazepines which are used to treat pain, anxiety or insomnia. They are extremely addictive and easily prescribed. The number of elderly people addicted to benzos have gone up each year.
Senior citizens have a decreased ability to metabolize drugs or alcohol along with an increased brain sensitivity to them. The mere intake of drugs of alcohol in excess is already risky enough at this age.
Challenges In Identifying Addiction Of Senior Citizens
Symptoms of other medical or mental health disorders, such as diabetes, dementia or depression, may really be posed by alcohol or drug abuse.
That is why "being old" is often a primary diagnosis for most psychological or physical health issues senior citizens receive at the doctor's.
Signs Of Addiction In Senior Citizens
This may not always be true but together with mental and physical health, relationships of older persons also decline. Even though addiction can be hard to identify in this demographic, it's essential to give attention to any unusual signs your elderly loved one exhibits.
Some signs of elderly drug abuse to look for include:
Memory loss or gap
Erratic sleeping habits
Depression, anxiety, sadness
Persistent aches or pains
Changes in eating habits
Want to be left alone
Lack of personal hygiene
Losing ties with loved ones
Lack of interest in normal activities
It is imperative to ask professional assistance from experts once substance abuse is confirmed or recognized among elderly.
It is also important to admit them to facilities that specialise in elderly addiction due to the commonly lacking family or social support at this age. Getting them access to case management services will also enable them to enjoy other resources necessary to their recovery be it medical, psychiatric or relational support.
Elderly Addiction Statistics
Family, medical practitioners, and caregivers are encouraged to be keen to the rising cases of elderly substance abuse and report them immediately.