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Addiction is a hushed and veiled problem which is growing each day in the older adults of the society. The signs of addiction are often mistaken for signs of aging.


Our aim is to raise awareness about the growing problem of addiction in older adults and the elderly and also provide awareness as to how they can be helped.

What we do?

Our aim is to provide help and guidance for addiction in older adults with the goal to identify and recommend treatment.


The signs of addiction are often mistaken for signs of aging and people are unable to identify let alone help people who are undergoing this serious problem. Our aim is to provide help and guidance so these problems can be identified and treated.


Check out our blog posts and articles that cover a wide range of subjects related to addiction in aging people.


We offer comprehensive advice to improving health and productivity, empowering you to help make healthy lifestyle changes while helping them overcome the barriers that could be the cause of addiction.


Aging and Addiction has been initiated to provide a unique platform for the people to find information, help, and guidance about aging and addiction problems of all sorts including medication abuse, alcohol addiction and much more.

Welcome to Aging & Addiction

Addiction is a hidden problem which is growing each day in the older adults of our society. The signs of addiction are often mistaken for signs of aging and people are quite often unable to identify let alone help people who are undergoing this serius problem. Our aim is to provide help and guidance so these problems can be identified and treated.

About us was created to provide a unique platform for the people to find information, help, and guidance about aging and addiction problems of all sorts including medication abuse, alcohol addiction and much more.

Old Age and Addiction

Addiction is a habit or a condition in which a person gets involved to take pleasure from it but its continuous act/usage may cause serious health, physical and mental issues. Addiction usually involved ingesting a substance or getting engaged in an activity for pleasure. It has been observed that this problem is more found in the elderly than the youth.

There are various reasons due to which addiction is more common in people who usually lie in the older age groups particularly 55 and older. These reasons may including stress, depression, financial problems, loneliness, etc.

Addiction is a very serious problem among the elderly mainly because it is the hardest job to detect and find the symptoms and signs of addiction in them. Quite often these signs and symptoms could easily be mistaken for signs of aging. Even if friends and family do somehow find out the signs of addiction they don’t always opt for treatment and help for the addict because of his old age. According to an estimate, three million Americans are suffering from some kind of addiction and struggling with alcohol or drug misuse.

Addiction is, in fact, a very complex and chronic disease which is hard to overcome. It is a serious mental illness as well because almost about sixty-three percent of the elderly who are suffering from some kind of serious addiction problem have been found to be victims of anxiety and depression. These older adults have more free time on their hands and loneliness is a major factor which is causing them to turn to these sources to find pleasure and become addicted to it whether it is substance abuse or alcoholism.

In most cases, these elderly are living alone or away from their children and family and have retired from their jobs. They have more time to kill and less to do. Due to old age, they can’t really do much and become lonely and depressed. They yearn to find some pleasure, solitude and just about anything that will make them feel like they have escaped the cage of loneliness and addiction becomes an easier way out.

Another important reason is that the older adults can easily get access to alcohol or drugs for pain. They are quite self-reliant and when facing physical pain they turn to prescription drugs and the risk of dependence and misuse increases.


The Causes of Addiction In The Elderly

reasons for addiction in elderly

Substance abuse is critically dangerous at any age but when it comes to the elderly the severity of it is even greater. Drug/alcohol abuse among senior citizens over the age of 60 is most under-diagnosed due to many factors and that is what makes it, even more, life threatening.

The causes of substance abuse among the elderly include:

  • Retirement
  • Death/Loss of a loved one
  • Chronic illness or memory loss
  • Conflicts in the family
  • Loneliness/depression
  • Lack of mobility
  • Financial strain
  • Insomnia
  • Moving away from hometown etc.

Coping with old age itself is tough for most senior citizens. Lifestyle changes occur that are hard to adapt to and loss of energy, social life or a loved one are a few of the highest causes of drug abuse among the elderly. The addiction to alcohol or drugs or both can be easily triggered in such cases.

There are actually two types of substance abusers among the elderly:

  • The hardy survivors – are old age people who have been substance abusers earlier in life too. Either they never gave up or the substance might have triggered once again when they survive to the age of 65 or above.
  • Late onset – Senior citizen might not be hard abusers earlier in life but due to circumstances that might be difficult to cope with in old age, they tend to become addicted to drugs and alcohol.
  • The substances most abused by age group 60 – 65 are:
  • Alcohol – more elderly men and women fall into alcoholism and tend to drink above the peak danger level. It is the top most abused substance among the senior citizens and the intake gets uncontrollable if goes unchecked.
  • Prescription drugs – it is quite common for elderly over the age of 65 to become addicted to the psychoactive and sedative drugs that might be prescribed for mind altering by the doctors.
  • Marijuana – the reason why this drug is highly abused by the senior citizens is because it was quite popularly abused in the 60s. The senior citizens might have been familiar with its use earlier in life and so find themselves in its need in this stage of life.

The most dangerous thing about substance abuse among the senior citizens is the fact that they are highly prone to falling into substance abuse. The lack of commitments and responsibilities in their age causes depression and the thoughts that occur during the depression causes them to fall into drug abuse without the fear of getting ill or even loss of their own life. The depression further falls into serious drug abuse and secretive drinking which is almost impossible to be diagnosed. Misdiagnosis can be done easily and so senior citizens don’t get serious help.

There are symptoms common among the elderly that can trigger substance abuse in them. Symptoms like:

  • Memory problems – hard time remembering recent events and often recalling events from early life
  • Change in sleeping patterns – sleeping too much during the day and keeping themselves awake till late at night
  • Mood swings – unexplainably happy or sad, irritability without any reason
  • Change in eating habits – eating less or more than usual
  • Loss of interest – in hobbies and activities that were once their favorite
  • Craving solidarity – wanting to be left alone more often
  • Bruises – unexplainable bruises on the body often
  • Physical appearance – failing to bath or basic self-grooming, not changing clothes

Guardians and caretakers should keep keen eyes for such symptoms and get professional help for the elderly. Talk to them and try communicating with them openly to see what issues are bothering them. Divorced, widowed, separated senior citizens are more likely to fall into substance abuse. More men than women from the age of 60 and above can fall into alcoholism. The senior citizen who has a history of substance abuse in the past or in the family is highly prone to the risk of substance abuse. Elderly who live by themselves are also guilty of being substance abusers as it’s easy for them to hide it. Doctors fail to recognize the substance abuse in elderly as they prescribe medications to treat the causes like depression and insomnia.

What to look for when searching for a rehab center?

Drug abuse is life threatening and rehabilitation from alcoholism or drugs can be a lifesaver. Rehab centers all around the world are occupied by drug abusers of all ages, both male and female. If you are looking for help for yourself or a loved one there are many factors to consider before choosing an appropriate rehabilitation center.

When looking for a rehab for elderly you should be very careful and research deeply on factors like:

The treatment you are expecting

Before choosing the right rehab center you need to understand what you are looking for as different center provide different results. The results depend on the program you choose, some programs include fixed number of weeks of therapy that will provide you with control and remove toxins so that you can return to normal life. This will work in cases that want to be helped. If you want to help yourself or your loved ones particularly an elderly then you need to consider therapy that comes with mental reconciliation. Older individuals are not looking for rehab and conceal the addiction so that no one finds out that is why centers that provide post-therapy care should be chosen.

Short-term or long-term treatment

Most commonly, rehab provides almost 28 days programs as that is enough to become stable and sober and this falls into short-term treatment. Although complex cases need long-term treatments that need both physical and mental reconciliation for elderly who is prone to falling into substance abuse again. When choosing a rehab center for senior citizen make sure you consider all the necessities needed for a particular case. Discuss your needs with an expert or the authorized person in the center and see what they suggest.

Does the center rely on the use of other drugs?

Many rehab centers with a pharmaceutical orientation rely on benzodiazepine-class drugs like Valium or Xanax that mitigate symptoms of distress but they don’t get the elderly out of the whole substance abuse situation. Opt for centers that provide holistic treatment, exercise, meditation, yoga etc. which will be better for the senior citizens as it will provide them with both mental and physical treatment and eliminate the stress in their life.

Drug Testing Patients

One of the most common ways to see if treatment has been effective is to perform random drug testing. Since one of the symptoms of addiction is lying, many times a patient’s word can not be taken as the truth when they are asked if they have been using or not. Drug testing older adults have different implications than with younger addicts.  So as the center questions about their programs regarding detox for drug tests and see if they have a suitable program for making sure their patients have not gone into a relapse phase.

Inpatient or outpatient

It’s always better for an elderly to opt for in-patient treatment although it may also depend on the severity of the case. The reason why you should go for inpatient treatment at the rehab center is because it provides full-time conciliation and keeps you away from any abusive substances. Most senior citizens live in nursing homes, or with guardians but mostly all by themselves which increases the chances of mistreatment. So, an inpatient treatment would be better for such cases. If you are looking for outpatient treatment then as a caretaker regular consultation with the therapist is a must.

Group Therapies

Some rehab centers provide group therapies which are something preferable for the elderly. One of the main reasons why senior citizens fall into substance abuse is the lack of socialization which further is misdiagnosed and mistreated. Group therapies bring more social contact with those who are suffering and being on the same journey, sharing the experience can be better for the treatment in other words sober peer support provides successful treatments.

Specialized facilities

Most often rehab centers provide specialized facilities for elderly who includes physician, nurses, speech therapist, psychiatrists and case managers that provide full treatment for the elderly. Post treatments and regular counseling are part of the case managers who keep checking with the citizens.

References from the physician

Ask your family doctor or the physician to refer a rehabilitation center that will be suitable for the elderly patient. They have more knowledge of the insights of the rehabilitation and will lead you towards a perfect rehabilitation center.

Other things to keep in mind when choosing rehabilitation center are the success rate of patients, qualification of the staff, their experience with the elderly, social reputation of the center, location etc. you can also talk to the patients who have experienced the treatments or ask your friends who might have been in rehab previously.

Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol or Drug Dependence

Over the past few years, the elderly population is growing rapidly in America with about more than 45 million adults over the age of 65. The first step in helping the older adults to overcome their alcohol or drug dependence is to help them in identifying their addiction. They have grown up in an alcohol and drug-friendly culture. The sad fact is that they are taking their addictions with them to their proceeding age without even realizing it is, in fact, a slow poison for them.

In most of the cases, older adults either don’t realize the severity of their addiction or simply don’t want to accept that they indeed have an addiction problem. This issue can be resolved by raising awareness in them about the consequences of not seeking help and continuing their addictions. They need encouragement and motivation to even seek help and find the courage to admit to themselves let alone any other that they are facing the addiction problem.

An intervention is a method which can be adopted by the people who want to help these people. The main goal of it is to help them see the need of and willingly enter a recovery and rehab program. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), one or two loved ones of the elderly particularly a spouse or children, a housemate or a close doctor or medical professional can be a part of the intervention. The involvement of too many people or people who are not trusted by the patient can emotionally overwhelm the addicted person and even increase the potential chances of confusion in them. The most important thing for the addict at the very beginning is to gain internal motivation and develop a sense of trust that seeking help and treatment may be effective for them and their health and it is ok for them to start seeking help and not be ashamed.

Once the addicted patient has gained self-motivation and trust, the next step involves the selection of a potential addiction treatment program and a recovery and rehab facility which will offer the sort of treatment services that are required by the addict. There are a number of treatment facilities offering all kinds of services and help.

Some are established specifically for the elderly while others are mixed age treatment centers. It is up to the patient to decide where he or she would feel more comfortable and choose that one. It has been seen that while some older adults enjoy the company of only the people who are of their same age and undergoing the similar situations, there are also a big number of people who like going to mixed age facilities. Whatever may the decision be, it is highly important that the elderly feel safe, secure and a sense of trust in the treatment facility they are going to and find the environment around them friendly and highly welcoming. Support groups are often an essential part of their treatments and recovery process. Even after they have overcome their addiction there is a very high chance that they may relapse and restart their addiction. To prevent that case, the elderly are often advised to join support groups which keep them motivated and help them to stay away from their addiction cravings too.


Please check out the below articles on aging and addiction. if you have any questions or comments please contact us.