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How is Drug and Alcohol Use Impacting Older Adults?

How is Drug and Alcohol Use Impacting Older Adults?

The misuse of drugs and alcohol is on the rise for many demographics, especially older adults. According to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., 2.5 million older adults have an alcohol or drug problem. Substance abuse goes unrecognized and untreated for older adults but it is a challenge for many who love them, including children and extended family who witness the ravages of addiction first hand.

The Impact of Addiction

While family members may not feel equipped to identify an abuse problem, they are often the ones who are best able to spot changes in behavior. Given the serious consequences of using drugs and alcohol, older adults are particularly vulnerable. The following issues may arise:

  • Life changes that trigger abuse including retirement, death of a spouse or loved one, loss of a pet, or significant life events which impact emotional and physical health
  • Older adults tend to hide problems due to shame so symptoms of abuse may mimic other diseases
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, activities, socializing, changes in appetite, or sleeping habits

How to Help

If you suspect a loved one may be at risk for substance abuse issues, there are ways to help support them in recovery:

  • Ask lots of questions
  • Speak frankly about any concerns you might have
  • Seek help if you think there are any issues with medication or addiction

There are many ways to navigate the conversation with a loved one who may be struggling with addiction. It helps to start off gently, by asking if they notice feeling different or off. For some older adults, they may recognize they don’t feel the same but many may not realize the symptoms they have are a cause for concern. If there are any issues, or it is hard to get information from the older adult, it may help to contact a treating physician and seek additional help identifying whether a problem exists and how to get the right support.

Older adults and young people are susceptible to addiction. It has no boundaries or age limit.  Let us help your loved one recover from addiction and seek the resources you need to keep you or your loved one clean and sober. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 844-339-6964