Treatment for Drug Abuse in the Elderly

In recent years, the pattern of drug abuse has shifted from the use of illegal drugs to the abuse of medically prescribed drugs in the general population. Senior citizens are no exception and often at an increased risk for abuse of prescription drugs. Persons ages 65 and older comprise 13 percent of the United States population, but account for one-third of all medications prescribed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Twelve to 15 percent of senior citizens who sought medical attention had problems with prescription drug abuse in 2005. Prescription drug abuse in the elderly is an ongoing problem and will only continue to grow as more of the population reaches retirement age.

Prescription Drug Abuse and the Elderly

Prescription Drug AbuseUsage of prescription medications is very common and they are the second most abused substance within the elderly population. The elderly are also more likely to suffer from chronic or long-term ailments that require continuous use of prescription painkillers and other medications. It is not uncommon for elderly patients to take the incorrect dosage amount or mix medications, which can lead to an increased physical dependency. Also for persons aged 65 and older, the body responds differently to medications. Drug metabolism is not as efficient or effective so medications tend to linger in the body for longer periods of time. Because of this, physical dependency can occur more quickly.

The Importance of Drug Abuse Treatment for the Elderly

Getting treatment for elderly persons with drug abuse is extremely important to their long-term health. For starters, elderly people are generally more susceptible to illness. Heavy drug use can weaken their immune systems further. Withdrawal can also be a more difficult and painful process in the elderly, as the body is not able to eliminate alcohol and drugs as quickly. Having the proper medical support during the withdrawal process can be critical and even life-saving for some elderly patients.

How to Find Drug Abuse Treatment for an Elderly Family Member

In can be difficult for an elderly person to enter into a treatment program. Many do not wish to leave the comforts of home for a residential program, and others may not be physically able to attend outpatient programs without assistance. Treatment facilities that work with the elderly need to understand the unique physical nature of their addiction, difficulties they might face during treatment and how their addiction can affect them psychologically. Staff members must also have the appropriate training to deal with elderly patients who potentially have other health complications unrelated to their addiction.

Are you a person over the age of 65 who is struggling with addiction? Call our toll-free number and speak to one of our counselors. They can answer any questions you might have about addiction and direct you to a treatment program that can fit your needs.