Addiction in the elderly is the most underestimated and underdiagnosed issue. Once diagnosed, the treatment is yet again another whole new dimension. There are numerous differences between the older generation and the young people when it comes to treatment of addiction and recovery from this habit. Their physical bodies and brain are quite different.
It has been found that addiction is on the rise in people who are 55 or older in America. These people mainly come from the 1960s and 1970s which were the era of a drug-friendly culture. This is one of the reasons that they face little to no doubts when starting drugs and taking pills to deal with just about anything. These elderly are quite self-reliant. They turn to prescription drugs and it is quite easily accessible for them. They can go for these prescription drugs for some sort of physical pain as simple as a backache due to aging and without even knowing fall victim to drug addiction and dependence.
They are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol. Their metabolisms have slowed due to aging. They are suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. They live in isolated places and suffer from depression, loneliness, and anxiety. All these and many other reasons lead them to the path of addiction quite easily. They find it easy to take drugs and alcohol without getting noticed by anyone. The way drugs and alcohol interacts with their own medications has managed their problems and they can use them without getting detected. People would simply mistake their signs and symptoms of addiction to the signs of aging.
When it comes to treatment and recovery, the older adults can be more compliant, submissive and docile than their younger counterparts but they still struggle with it. This fight is totally unique for them too. While most of them would be more responsible for recognizing their issue and its severity to some extent, they still can’t seem to cope with it so easily. Most of the times they have a very overwhelming fear of loneliness and growing old. This can cause them to relapse and aggravate their situation. They face a harder struggle getting into recovery at first due to feelings of shame and guilt and an even harder struggle awaits them after rehab and recovery to stay sober. There are some older adults who have grown up learning that addicts were degraded and belittled people, living under bridges. They don’t want to admit that they have the same problem with those people and don’t believe to be them. It is shameful for them to ask for help so they simply don’t do it even if they know they are suffering from a serious addiction.
The younger people are the exact opposite in the sense that unlike older adults, they start their addictions earlier in life. It is believed that in comparison it is, however, easier for the younger people to overcome addiction at the very beginning of this problem. They often end up in rehab after a very short period of drug or alcohol use and addiction. In comparison, they have a higher chance of overcoming this issue as they can find themselves engaged in other things quite easier. They can even find motivation in the simple fact that once they overcome it there is a whole long life waiting for them to return back to and they can get involved in several exciting things. Their loneliness and depression can still be cured easier than in the case of older adults who are depressed their old age and can’t seem to find many alternatives to look forward to.
For the elderly, treatment can still be effective, but there are specific treatments for older adults. Some examples include the formation of elderly addiction groups where people with similar age and addiction can join together can become a source of motivation for each other and find support from other people undergoing same difficulties. There are several addiction rehab centers which are being set up all over the country to help the seniors and educate them to understand their situations and seek help. Therapists can also be extremely beneficial for these elderly too. If the older adults are not seeking help because they have a shame of interacting with people they can easily get individual examination and guidance from such therapists at their own homes so they don’t have to go anywhere and avoid the fear of being ashamed in front of other people.