Getting Help for Seniors Affected by Addiction
Research shows that young adulthood is a peak time for drug and alcohol use. Not surprisingly, it is also a peak time for substance problems serious enough to require treatment. However, such issues can occur at any age. That includes your senior years. For this reason, rehab for seniors can be an important late-life concern.
In some ways, senior rehab is the same as rehab for younger adults. However, seniors also have some unique, age-related recovery needs. It can take extra effort to identify and treat late-life substance problems. But the right kind of rehab for seniors (and their families) will provide excellent support for your loved one’s sobriety goals.
Misconceptions Around Seniors and Addiction
Many people believe that late life is a time when the risks for substance problems are slim at best. However, this common misconception around seniors and addiction hides an important fact. Adults do not just stop drinking automatically when the reach the age of 65. In addition, they do not automatically stop taking drugs. Awareness of the potential for problems in seniors is a major first step in detection, treatment and recovery.
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Alcohol and Drug Misuse Among the Elderly
How common are alcohol and drug misuse among the elderly? Research shows that roughly 16 million seniors drink in the average month. In addition, millions more use addictive prescription medications or illegal drugs. Complete figures on drug and alcohol misuse among older adults are not available. However, almost a million seniors have a substance use disorder, making rehab for seniors a vital part of the addiction treatment field. We should note, this is an umbrella term for all forms of substance addiction and serious substance abuse. The large majority of these disorders are alcohol-related.
Prescription Misuse Among Seniors
Prescription misuse can have a serious, negative impact regardless of your age. However, in some ways, prescription misuse among seniors is a particular concern. First, medication use tends to increase with age. As a result, seniors have an unusually high level of risk for problems with misuse.
In addition, as you grow older, the speed at which you process drugs (and alcohol) slows down. This slowdown can make your brain more susceptible to the drug effects of addictive medications. In turn, it can also increase your chances of becoming addicted.
Dual Diagnosis in Senior Populations
Substance problems are not the only mental health concern for seniors. In addition, older Americans have significant chances of developing a separate mental illness. For some people, addiction and mental illness overlap. The accepted term for this kind of overlap is dual diagnosis.
How common is dual diagnosis in senior populations? Studies show that anywhere from 21% to 66% of seniors with a substance problem also have a separate mental illness. In addition, anywhere from 7% to 38% of seniors with a mental illness also have a substance misuse problem.
Depression in Retirement
One potential issue related to dual diagnosis in seniors is depression in retirement. Research shows that people who retire may have increased risks for depression. In addition, people who retire may also have increased risks for substance problems. These two findings help explain seniors’ exposure to cases of dual diagnosis.
Addiction Therapies Helpful for Elderly Clients
What kinds of addiction therapies are helpful for elderly clients? As a rule, seniors benefit from the same treatment options as younger adults. Those options include both medication and behavioral psychotherapy.
However, there are some additional, important treatment considerations for seniors. First, older adults typically need to stay in treatment for longer amounts of time. They also need:
- Help with other chronic conditions affecting their health
- Better access to required services
- Assistance in re-establishing their support systems
- Providers who understand the unique needs of seniors
Importance of Medical Detox for Seniors
Anyone addicted to drugs or alcohol starts recovery with a period of detox. Detox provides time for any remaining addictive substance to leave your system. When this happens, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms triggered by that substance.
Medical detox is recommend for all people going through withdrawal. That includes older adults. This form of detox is supervised by trained professionals. It provides the help you need to make it through withdrawal. At the same time, it takes precautions that help guard your safety and well-being.
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Continuing Care and Ongoing Support for Sober Seniors
Addiction is a chronic illness. For this reason, it requires long-term management in addition to short-term treatment. This management is commonly known as continuing care. Continuing care provides sober seniors with crucial, ongoing support. This support can take the form of steps such as:
- Making periodic wellness check-ins with your doctor
- Joining a new, less intensive kind of treatment program
- Taking an active part in a mutual self-help group
Medicare and Choosing the Right Coverage for Treatment
Many seniors can help cover the cost of rehab with help from the federal Medicare program. Medicare does not include substance treatment among its specific benefits. However, it will help pay for any treatment that is “reasonable and necessary.” All substance-related services are offered through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Coverage is provided under Medicare Parts B and D.
Helping Parents Find an Addiction Treatment Center
How can you help your parents find an addiction treatment center that fits their needs? One major step is identifying programs that have experience treating older adults. These programs should provide evidence-based care options known to help seniors. They should also provide the kinds of supporting services that seniors typically need. With these criteria in mind, you will find it much easier to find a program the works for your loved one.
Seek Rehab for Seniors at Emerald Isle Recovery
At Emerald Isle, we have extensive experience helping people from all walks of life recover from substance problems. That includes older adults. We not only offer treatment plans specialized for people in this age group. We also offer customized plans geared toward each senior’s individual needs. This targeted approach helps make senior for rehab as effective as possible. For more information on Emerald Isle’s plans and services, contact us today.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – The CBHSQ Report: A Day in the Life of Older Adults – Substance Use Facts
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Substance Use in Older Adults DrugFacts
- Journal of Dual Diagnosis: Dual Diagnosis Among Older Adults – Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Illness
- American Psychological Association: Retiring Minds Want to Know
- The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: The Effect of Retirement on Older Adults’ Substance use, an Update and Expansion to the Literature
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment – 1. Overview, Essential Concepts and Definitions in Detoxification
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: MLN Matters – Medicare Coverage of Substance Abuse Services