Substance abuse in the elderly is one of the quickest-growing health problems in America. Among people over 65, 17% struggle with an alcohol or prescription drug-related addiction. However, substance addiction in older adults is many times underestimated and underdiagnosed because doctors fail to recognize the symptoms.

Seniors are especially at risk of health problems due to drug and alcohol use. Don’t hesitate to look into our treatment options in Los Angeles, CA if you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse.

Connection Between Senior Citizens and Substance Abuse

Connection Between Senior Citizens and Substance Abuse.

Studies show that substance abuse is becoming a major concern among senior citizens. Why is this just now a problem? The reported percentage of substance addiction in the elderly population is inaccurate. A multitude of factors contribute to the underestimation of substance use in older adults.

Healthcare providers often overlook signs of substance use because of other conditions senior citizens may have. The symptoms of substance use can be identical to medical conditions like dementia, depression, and diabetes. Because people may experience many health problems as they get older, addiction can be overlooked, even under professional medical care.

There are two classifications of older adults with a substance use addiction. The “hardy survivor” comprises long-term substance addicts who have made it to 65. The “late onset” group is older adults who have developed an addiction and in need of a substance addiction rehab in Los Angeles, CA after 65.

What Are the Causes of Addiction in the Elderly?

Numerous factors contribute to rising rates of substance addiction in older adults. Physical and mental health issues suffered in older age may lead to the development of substance addiction. Additionally, it is harder for seniors to visit with loved ones who live far away. Factors that contribute to substance addiction in the elderly population include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loneliness, sadness, and depression
  • Lack of proper hygiene
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in diet

There are many different causes of addiction, and older adults are especially at risk. In many instances, seniors abuse substances to cope with the loneliness they experience. Losing friends and family can leave older adults isolated and depressed. It is critical that you make sure to check in with those you love regularly.

Dangers of Substance Abuse in the Elderly

The effects of substance use are much more severe for older adults because their body is unable to metabolize drugs and alcohol. The brain is also more susceptible to damage as a person gets older. If drugs and alcohol are not metabolized properly, substance use can have fatal consequences.

One of the most dangerous drugs for older adults is benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are used to treat conditions such as anxiety and insomnia. However, this drug is highly addictive and is heavily overprescribed. The rate of benzodiazepine addiction among senior citizens has grown every year.

Seniors are at risk of developing intensified health problems following substance use. Strokes, seizures, and high blood pressure are more common after using drugs and alcohol. When older adults have more health problems, they are prescribed more medication. This cycle is extremely dangerous and can lead to overdose.

It is important to check in with loved ones and ensure that they are avoiding substance use outside of their prescription. Seek treatment if you think that you or a loved one is struggling to control addictive urges.

Challenges of Identifying Addiction in the Elderly

Many times, substance abuse treatment in Los Angeles, CA is needed in older adults because it is often undiagnosed. Doctors typically consider the symptoms of substance addiction to be symptoms of old age. Healthcare providers are not intentionally overlooking substance addiction. It is easy to confuse substance addiction with the symptoms of mental and physical decline.

The symptoms of substance abuse may also mimic the symptoms of prescription drug side effects. It is common for older adults to experience more health problems because of mental and physical deterioration. It is hard to predict how seniors may respond to medication, which means the symptoms of addiction can be overlooked.

As people age, their tolerance for drugs and alcohol decreases. This means that older adults may become intoxicated by a smaller amount of a substance. Without even realizing it, seniors can quickly become addicted.

What Are the Symptoms of Addictions in Senior Citizens?

Substance addiction may be hard to identify in older adults so it is important to be aware of the symptoms. Senior citizens experience a deterioration in their mental and physical health and are in need of mental health treatment in Los Angeles, CA, which can lead to substance use as a coping mechanism. Some symptoms of addiction in the elderly include:

  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Sadness
  • Isolation
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fluctuation in energy levels

The symptoms of addiction may be confused with the health effects of old age. It is important to talk to your loved ones if you think they are showing signs of substance use. Approach them in a comfortable setting and avoid shaming or embarrassing them. Figure out what they are going through and discuss possible treatment options.

Statistics on Substance Abuse Among Older Adults

Substance abuse in older adults is a growing problem in America. Nearly one million adults of 65 reported a substance addiction in the past year. However, because of a lack of information and confusion with other health conditions, the statistics of substance abuse in the elderly population are underestimated.

According to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Service, 17% of people over 65 have abused prescription drugs. 10.7% of senior citizens reported binge drinking in the last month. Prescription drugs and alcohol are the two most commonly abused substances among senior citizens.

Alcohol Misuse Among the Elderly

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among older adults. Alcohol misuse has increased in recent years among men and women over 65. Binge drinking among women over 65 has also increased significantly.

Alcohol is particularly dangerous for senior citizens because of the cognitive effects it has. Older adults are more susceptible to brain damage and cognitive impairment because of their old age. Old age causes mental and physical deterioration that makes it difficult to function properly.

When seniors consume alcohol, it is harder for the body to process it. This means that alcohol stays in their system longer and is affected by a smaller amount of it. This can be dangerous because it may lead to falls, car accidents, and bone damage.

In many cases, alcohol is consumed at the same time as other prescription medicine. Depending on the type of medicine, the effects of both substances may be harmful. It can also be especially hard on the liver and other digestive organs when multiple substances are present.

Prescription Drug Abuse Among Seniors

Studies estimate that up to 11% of adults over 65 abuse prescription drugs. Behind alcohol, opioids are the second most commonly abused substance among senior citizens. According to a national survey, 37% of men and 36% of women are prescribed at least 5 different prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, many seniors become addicted to prescription drugs by accident. The body has a lower tolerance for medicine as it gets older, meaning smaller doses can have a greater effect. Prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines are highly addictive and are overprescribed by doctors.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, baby boomers (people born between 1947 and 1964) are the most affected demographic by the current opioid epidemic. Prescription opioid overdose among baby boomers has increased significantly every year since 2010.

Treatment Options for Substance Abuse in Older Adults

Treatment Options for Substance Abuse in Older Adults .Substance abuse leads to an increased risk of health problems such as stroke, seizures, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Thankfully, treatment can alleviate the pain of substance abuse and improve a person’s well-being.

When looking into treatment, it is crucial to find a facility that specializes in treating older adults over 65. Seniors require specialized care that is tailored to their needs. Some forms of treatment that are effective in treating older adults include:

Consult with your doctor before receiving treatment. Make sure you find the right fit for you or your loved one.

Westwind Recovery® Offers Substance Abuse Treatment for Senior Citizens

Westwind Recovery® Offers Substance Abuse Treatment for Senior Citizens.

The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. Millions of people suffer from addiction, and there is no shame in seeking help. Substance abuse affects all people regardless of age, race, gender, etc. Take the first step on the road to recovery and achieve sober living in Los Angeles, CA.

Located in Los Angeles, CA, Westwind Recovery® offers addiction treatment for adults over 65. This program alleviates the pain of substance use by surrounding clients with a comfortable and friendly environment. Our highly trained staff specializes in treating seniors that are struggling with addiction.

If you or a loved one is interested in our services and would like to learn more, contact us today!