Though the stereotypical drinker or drug user is under the age of 30, one of the fastest growing groups of drug and alcohol abusers consists of those actually over the age of 50, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Unfortunately, both alcohol abuse and abuse of prescription medications are becoming a growing problem among those over the age of 50 in the United States. There are a number of reasons why this may happen:
- Lack of recognition that prescription drugs can be dangerous or cause overdose
- Innocently mixing medications with alcohol
- So many doctors that medications are prescribed that negatively interact or duplicate each others’ effects
- Stress relief or relief from depression or anxiety
- Confusion over when the last dose was taken and inadvertently taking too much too soon
- Driving while impaired
If you have a senior loved one in your life, you are strongly encouraged to monitor them closely for the warning signs of addiction, especially if they are being prescribed addictive medications for pain relief or other problems. Signs to look out for include:
- Changes in mood and/or behavior
- Maintaining prescriptions to several medications
- Regularly engaging in “doctor shopping”
- Hiding alcohol or lying about how much they drink
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Appearing impaired
- Refilling prescriptions early
- Increasing financial difficulties
- Claiming to have lost prescriptions or to have had them stolen
- Changes in memory
- Lack of coordination
- Changes in eating habits
- Avoiding family, friends and social relationships
- Difficulty concentrating
- A lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
It’s Never Too Late
If you notice these signs in a loved one or feel that a problem with drugs or alcohol exists for them, seek help immediately. Too many older adults feel that medical treatment for addiction is a case of “too little too late” and an unnecessary addition to their current regimen of medical care; however, the opposite is true.
Abuse or misuse of medications can thwart progress in health care and treatment of chronic ailments. It can cause patients to miss appointments, therapy sessions, or go off their other medications. It can also decrease the quality of life and shorten the lifespan of the patient – or cause accidents or overdose that ultimately ends their life too soon.
If your loved one is at risk for addiction or living with a chronic alcohol or drug abuse problem, don’t wait to reach out to us here at Axis. We offer intensive treatment and a wide range of services that can assist them as they rebuild a solid foundation in sobriety. Call now for more information.