The Danger of Substance Abuse in Older Adults

/, Health, Medical/The Danger of Substance Abuse in Older Adults

All people who are victims of substance abuse are prone to physical and mental health issues. And this problem is more severe in people who are over 45 years of age. Their bodies will get weakened and will not be able to defend themselves against such over-indulgence and this will give way to the rapid decline of their health. Alcohol has a major impact on the mental functioning of the seniors and in older people the enzymatic activity in liver decreases which lowers the conversion of fat into other substances and water, consequently there is less water to dilute the alcohol and this maximizes the harms that it may cause in the body.

Tolerance levels in older people decrease and so they are more at risk even if their alcohol consumption is same as a person ten years younger to them. Moreover, older people are usually prescribed a lot of medication to keep them in good shape and health and mixing up the use of these with alcohol and drugs is something which is highly dangerous and risky. Alcoholics, when drunk have no sense of motor and posture so if they fall or topple down, there are chances of them fracturing themselves and if that happens in older age, it might even take you to bed for the rest of your life as bone healing at that age is very slow and incomplete.

  • Older People at Risk
  • Substance abuse is more likely to occur in these people:
  • Males (The rate is much higher than in females).
  • Divorcees.
  • People dealing with financial hardship.
  • Older people who were abused in young age.
  • Socially isolated.
  • People with family history of substance abuse.
  • People who have suffered bereavement.

Difficult Diagnosis

The diagnosis of substance abuse in older people is far more difficult than in younger people.

The major reason for this is that the diagnostic tools for substance abuse tend to be biased towards its identification among younger people. These tools are focused on conducting assessments on the ability of individuals to fulfill their daily work commitments and family responsibilities. The older individual will obviously have fewer such commitments so it renders this method less effective for older people.

Older people can be unwilling to admit having fallen prey to substance abuse. They may view that by divulging such information they are putting themselves out for a great deal of shame. The lack of media attention given to elderly substance abuse adds to the issue and gives it more of a social stigma. This way the elder people are misled into believing that their problems are strange and uncommon which makes them stay quiet about them.


  • Secretive behavior.
  • Irritability when questioned about substance abuse.
  • Memory problems and blackouts.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mood swings and irrational behavior.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Withdrawal from social life and lack of interest in normal fun activities.
  • Negligence of personal hygiene.
  • Negativity and depression.


Once the problem of substance abuse is successfully identified, there are a few means by which it can be controlled or even completely dealt with in older adults:

Addiction Support Camps

These camps help you in a way that you realize that the problems you are facing are not odd or uncommon and there are other people out there who too are in an encounter with the same issues. This gives you a sense of fellowship with others and you get in a better and a more favorable psychological state to try quitting the abuse.


Therapists or addiction rehab centers can also be of great help as they will help you figure out the root cause behind the abuse and addiction and the factors that trigger its urge. Once this is done, you’d be able to work on them and can ultimately quit the abuse.

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