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Drug Addiction and the Golden Years

Research has shown a large spike in senior drug abuse over the past decade. In studies reporting for people sixty plus, there has been a 70% jump in older adults dealing with drug abuse. Alcohol abuse remains the leading addiction, with marijuana and prescription medication following close behind.

There are many reasons seniors may need to seek addiction counseling. One reason is stress. After retirement, money may become tight. This can cause stress and anxiety to a senior. There is a very real depression issue for the elderly. They often have feelings of loneliness. Their children may be grown and located far away; they may be divorced or their spouse has passed. They feel isolated and alone. Alcohol abuse is common when depression is a factor. Approximately 85% of seniors in drug rehabilitation are doing so for alcoholism.

Often, the older we are, the more physical pain we experience. Our joints get tired and general ailments just seem to take much more out of us than in our younger years. Once again, the reasoning for drug abuse could be to ease the pain, or to ease the depression the senior is experiencing from being in chronic pain. These are very real situations that an experienced addiction counseling facility, like Vista Taos Renewal Center in New Mexico can help seniors with.

Another popular reason for alcohol abuse or drug use in seniors is simply, their freedom. Having the children raised and gone and no one to ‘report to’, seniors simply may “indulge” because they can. However, they must also realize that just because they have no home or work requirements, they are not immune from the law. Seniors can and do get arrested for DUIs, drug possession and paraphernalia.

The problem about getting the senior into addiction counseling is getting your elderly mother, father or grandparent to admit that he or she has a drug or alcohol problem. Most often, people find staging an intervention with an elder to be a difficult subject. Family or loved ones who respect them and spent years looking up to them; sometimes feel as though bringing up a substance abuse issue with them would be disrespectful. We feel that our parents or grandparents are entitled to let loose a little; after all, they may have:
1. Served our country in the armed forces.
2. Brought us into this world and took care of us.
3. Worked 12 hours days all their life and finally retired.
4. Had a terrible family life growing up.
5. Miss their spouse.
6. Sacrificed for their family, and so on.

There are so many reasons we feel guilty or uneasy approaching a senior about seeking addiction counseling for substance abuse. The truth is, we need to reach out. There will be more individuals in their 60’s and beyone in need of care as our baby boomers are getting to their golden years. It is not just alcohol abuse or prescription pain medication either; there are seniors currently in treatment in the United States for heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine (meth). Government medical plans do not often cover much, if any, of their treatment; many have to pay out of pocket. You owe it to your loved one to mention how their lifestyle can be detrimental to their health. As we grow older, drugs and alcohol abuse can be more dangerous than when we were in our thirties. Our bodies are slowing down; it becomes harder to bounce back.

If you or your senior loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and is in need of addiction counseling, please speak with them about getting the help they need to live out their golden years comfortably. Let them know your concern for their health and be a supportive member of their treatment process. When many friends and family are far away or have passed, it makes sobriety difficult, as close friends and family boost the rates of successful addiction counseling therapy. Be there for them and know that it makes all the difference.

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