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Dependence In The Elderly

Substance Abuse Among Elderly

The health effects of substance abuse for those over the age of 65 can be even more dangerous than in younger users, even it's not uncommon to develop an addiction later life.


In the UK, substance addiction among senior citizens is a constantly increasing health issue. Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services says that substance use among senior citizens can be classified into two typical forms: the "late onset" group, which is those who form addictions later in life and the "hardy survivor", or those who have been abusing substances for many years and have reached 65. If you want to beat your addiction, regardless of your age or when you began using a substance, there are numerous treatment alternatives you can choose from.


Cases among elderly are commonly overlooked thereby preventing them the opportunity for help or treatment.


Causes Of Dependence In The Elderly

There are many causes for developing a substance addiction even as a senior citizen. These could be life-changing events or health-related issues that take an emotional toll.

Drug-abusing behaviour may be provoked by these events that can result in a full-scale addiction. Please contact us today on 0800 246 1509 if you or a person you care about is having addiction troubles in their older age and require help with looking for a rehab program.


Possible triggers for drug or alcohol addiction in the elderly are:

  • Retirement
  • Death of someone close, or a pet.
  • Loss of income or financial stress
  • Relocation to a nursing home
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Family conflict
  • Physical or psychological health issues (depression, amnesia, life-threatening operations, etc.)

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The Risk Of Senior Citizen Substance Abuse

Senior citizens are more susceptible to the deteriorating effects of drug and alcohol, therefore, these substances are particularly dangerous among the elderly.

Some of the most dangerous prescription drugs for seniors are Benzodiazepines which are used to treat pain, anxiety or insomnia. They are extremely addictive and easily prescribed. There has been rise in the rate of elderly addicted to benzos.


People above the age of 65 have a diminished capability to metabolize substances or alcohol together with a heightened brain sensitivity to them. Even when the person is not addicted, it becomes harmful for seniors to use drugs or alcohol totally.


Identifying Substance Abuse Among Elderly Can Be Tricky

Some of the psychological or physical health issues, like dementia, depression or diabetes might actually have similar side effects to substance abuse.

That is why "being old" is often a primary diagnosis for most psychological or physical health issues senior citizens receive at the doctor's.


Drug Abuse And Its Symptoms Among Elderly

As individuals become aged, their mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing and private ties may begin to drop. It's important to pay attention to any unusual signs your elderly loved one displays, although addiction can be difficult to recognize in this demographic.

A few symptoms of senior citizens substance misuse to search for are:

  • Memory troubles
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Feeling irritable, sad and depressed
  • Persistent aches or pains
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Want to be left alone
  • Failing to bathe or stay clean
  • Cutting off communication with family
  • Losing interest in usual activities

It is imperative to ask professional assistance from experts once substance abuse is confirmed or recognized among elderly.

People over 65 usually don't have enough support that is needed after treatment, so you need to find a specific program that provides case management services in addition to having experience in dealing with elderly addiction. The continued healthy lifestyle is allowed after the treatment with these case management services that provide the elderly with access to medical, psychiatric, and social resources.


Senior Citizen Addiction Statistics

The reason for concern and something that should not be ignored by medical professionals, caretakers or family members, is the alarming rate at which individuals 65 years and older are developing addictions to various substances.