Addiction treatment for seniors

substance abuse and addiction among the elderly is a growing problem in the United States. Where can seniors find help? We review how and where to get help for addiction treatment here.

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Seniors and addiction treatment

Addiction doesn’t choose gender, race, nationality or age. Today, addiction is a problem that the whole world is facing and everyone form teens to addicted young adults to the elderly are in need of help when fighting this disease. Recent studies have shown that nearly 20% of elderly individuals in this country may have a substance abuse problem. Some seniors may have used drugs throughout their life, while others may have started abusing drugs or alcohol in their later years. Late onset substance abuse in seniors is typically brought on by major life changes, such as retirement, loss of a spouse, or medical problems. The treatment approach for addiction is different for particular groups of people, and the elderly most certainly need special care and individualized methods to help them cope with addiction.

Addiction treatment for seniors should focus on the individual needs of those in this demographic. Successful addiction treatment for the elderly should include many, if not all, of the following services.

  • Family participation and counseling
  • Mental health services
  • Medical services
  • Peer support groups
  • Payment assistance
  • Medicare coverage

Senior drug addiction treatment

As with other types of drug addiction treatment, senior drug addiction treatment is comprised of a few important steps. This usually includes an evaluation, detox, psychological treatment, and aftercare.

1. Screening and assessment

Screening a senior for addiction helps mental health professionals determine the extent of the elderly person’s addiction. A thorough mental assessment is also performed in order to identify any mental health issues, such as depression or Alzheimer’s Disease, that may contribute to the substance abuse.

2. Detoxification

Since withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous, elderly individuals should consider detoxing under medical supervision. This helps enables medical professionals to help relieve withdrawal symptoms and administer emergency care, if necessary.

3. Psychological treatment

Individual and group therapy are often used to treat substance use disorders in the elderly. Family therapy and counseling are also quite effective during senior drug addiction treatment. Stress and pain management techniques are also usually taught during senior addiction treatment.

4. Aftercare

Senior drug addiction treatment aftercare is an important step toward recovery. After completing an addiction treatment program, seniors should continue individual therapy on an outpatient basis. If feasible, they should also continue to attend self-help group therapy meetings as well. Some seniors may also need help transitioning back into society as sober individuals; staying in a transitional living facility may work, but it’s usually a better idea for seniors to stay in the company of a close family member, such as a son or daughter.

Senior addiction treatment barriers

Participating in addiction treatment can be slightly more difficult for addicted men or women as they age. Elderly individuals and their families will typically find that there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome in order to participate in senior addiction treatment. Barriers can include

  • Limited medical insurance coverage
  • Financial difficulties
  • Health problems
  • Mobility issues
  • Inability to find suitable treatment
  • Personal feelings regarding addiction or treatment

Addicted seniors

Living with an addiction is nothing short of a struggle for anyone, especially the elderly. Unfortunately, many individuals are hesitant to ask for help when they need it. They may not want to be seen as a burden, or they may not want others to form a poor opinion of them. Seniors who are struggling with addictions, however, should not hesitate to ask for help. Fortunately, there are a number of places that addicted seniors can turn to for help.

1. Loved ones will often be more than willing to help addicted seniors find help for their substance abuse problems. This includes spouses, children, and even close friends. They can often help locate an addiction treatment program and offer a great deal of support during this emotional and difficult time. Primary physicians are also great people for addicted senior to turn to. Not only can they screen seniors for addiction, but they can also assess them and refer them to a suitable treatment program.

2. Finally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website has a substance abuse treatment facility locator. This tool can be used to locate addiction treatment programs in specific areas. It can also be used to filter the results to include only facilities that offer services suitable to an elderly person’s situation, such as those that accept Medicare, offer payment assistance, and focus on treating the elderly.

Senior addiction questions

The Golden Years should be filled with happiness and contented reflection, not plagued with addiction. By reaching out and getting help for senior addiction early, elderly individuals can spend more time doing what they enjoy and less time worrying about their substance use. If you or a loved one need more information on senior addiction, questions are invited in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to address your concerns in a timely manner, and hopefully, help get you started on the road to recovery.

Reference Sources: OASAS New York: In Depth Series on the Elderly
SAMHSA: Data Spotlight on Older Adult Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions
NCBI: The Growing Problem of Illicit Substance Abuse in the Elderly: A Review
SAMHSA: Substance abuse among older adults
NIH Senior Health: Treating Substance Abuse
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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