Addiction is not something that reserves itself for a particular demographic. Many people may be surprised to know that an alarming amount of seniors wrestle with addiction. Substance use among seniors is often an overlooked issue. As the population ages, an increasing number of older adults are facing challenges related to addiction; this is often due to a combination of factors unique to this life stage. Recognizing and addressing substance use in seniors with addiction treatment programs is essential for improving quality of life. Our rehab facility in Portland, Oregon, offers specialty treatment for seniors, men, women, and young adults. Call our Crestview team today to learn more!
What Are the Most Common Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults?
The most common addictions in seniors include alcoholism and prescription drug misuse, particularly opioids and benzodiazepines. Alcohol addiction is often overlooked or misdiagnosed, despite being the most prevalent substance use issue among seniors. Additionally, misuse of prescription medications, especially those prescribed for pain management or anxiety disorders, has seen a marked increase in the aging population. It’s important to advocate for increased awareness and resources to address these under-recognized issues.
Substance use disorders among senior adults are often not acknowledged due to various factors such as stigma, lack of awareness, and ageism. Many people tend to believe that substance use is a problem exclusive to the younger generations, but the truth is that it affects individuals of all ages. One of the reasons why this issue remains hidden among seniors is that they may not exhibit typical signs and symptoms of substance use.
What are the Typical Signs and Symptoms of Substance Use in Seniors?
Substance use among seniors often presents with a range of subtle signs that can easily be mistaken for typical signs of aging or manifestations of chronic illnesses. These may include the following:
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Decline in personal hygiene
- Frequent mood swings
- Increasing secrecy or solitude
Memory problems, a decrease in motor coordination, and a shift in social activities may also be observed. Additionally, frequent visits to different doctors or pharmacies might signify an attempt to acquire more of the substance. Understanding these signs is crucial for early detection and intervention.
What are The Risk Factors/Causes of Substance Use Disorder in Seniors?
Substance use among senior adults has several causative factors and risks. Oftentimes, these triggers include the following:
- Significant life changes
- Financial stress
- Loss of loved ones
- Feelings of loneliness
These can prompt increased substance use as a coping mechanism. Chronic pain or health issues can also lead to increased reliance on prescription medications, potentially leading to addiction. Another cause of substance use disorder in seniors has to do with metabolism. Metabolism slows down with age, which can increase the impact of alcohol and drugs on an older person’s system. Lack of awareness about substance use in older adults can also lead to late diagnosis, exacerbating the problem.
How Do Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Affect Seniors?
Drug and alcohol abuse distinctly impact seniors, often exacerbating health problems and disrupting their quality of life. Chronic misuse can lead to significant physical complications, including heart problems, liver disease, or increased risk of stroke. These substances may interact adversely with prescribed medications, impairing their efficacy or causing harmful side effects.
Mentally, seniors may experience an escalation in depression, anxiety, and memory loss. Addiction also leads to social isolation, as relationships with family and friends can be strained, leading to emotional distress. It’s important for healthcare providers to screen for substance use in seniors to manage and mitigate potential harm.
How Many Senior Adults Struggle with Substance Use Disorder?
Substance use among senior adults is an under-recognized and growing health concern globally. Studies have shown that approximately 1 in 17 senior adults in the United States struggle with substance use. This means roughly 2.8 million seniors abuse substances including alcohol and prescription medication misuse. The challenge lies in the fact that symptoms often mimic normal signs of aging; this makes it difficult to identify and address the problem.
Individualized Care at Crestview
At Crestview Recovery, we prioritize individualized care for seniors, providing a tailored approach to meet the unique needs of each resident. Our care plans are developed in collaboration with the individual, their family, and medical professionals to ensure optimal health, wellness, and happiness. Our dedicated team of caregivers are fully trained and committed to providing compassionate, respectful support; we believe in promoting the dignity and independence of each senior. From medication management to assistance with daily living activities, Crestview Recovery fosters a nurturing environment for seniors.