Drug Abuse and the Elderly
You wouldn’t likely suspect your mother or grandmother of having a drug dependency, yet studies show that addiction among the elderly is climbing.
Older generations aren’t abusing illicit drugs like the young. Symptoms of anxiety and sleepless nights are being treated with prescriptions of Xanax, Valium and other benzodiazepines that are meant for short-term management of these conditions. Unfortunately, older patients are taking them daily whether they need them or not-much like pills they take for long-term disorders like high blood pressure-and the abuse is going largely unnoticed. Why?
Several reasons, actually. Doctors may be completely unaware or too busy to notice. Others find the task of confronting an elderly patient with questions that suggest she may be an addict embarrassing or distasteful. Still others may feel that since the person is old anyway, she should be left alone.
The main problem with elderly drug abuse is that they suffer from more psychological and physical issues than a younger person who uses prescription drugs other than for what they are intended. Depression is common among the elderly as they become more and more dependent on others. Whether they are abusing medications to alleviate uncomfortable emotional feelings or they have bad feelings because of the medications prescribed for other issues can only be determined by a professional.
The first step in getting treatment for elderly drug abusers is to be alert to signs and symptoms of the abuse. Family members especially need to be aware of what medications their parents or grandparents are on and monitor them carefully. It may become necessary for the family to intervene and for their loved one to seek inpatient care if the abuse has been long term.
The way back to recovery is a long road for the elderly. It will require the proper counseling, family support and time and patience. Loved ones need to be committed to helping her every step of the way and to proving long-term support and encouragement. There are many types of drug rehabilitation available today, and many programs that can truly work with the elderly. These would be centers that have Drs. And registered nurses on staff to help with any medical need that may arise during detox or any other time in the program. Contact a professional addiction counselor of advise on different methods of treatment and to find a program that fits the needs of your loved one.
Speak to a professional addiction counselor today; 1-877-744-3536
Or fill out the contact form below and a counselor will contact you.