How To Help a Senior Family Member Overcome Addiction

What AThe Health Effects Of Substance Abuse In Seniors?

Many people are surprised to learn that developing addictions later in life is not uncommon and is actually one of the fastest-growing health crises in the United States. Unfortunately, the health effects of substance abuse in people over 65 can be even more dangerous than for younger people. Since alcohol and prescription drug abuse is frequently underestimated and under-diagnosed, Glendale addiction clinic answers your questions about senior citizen addiction and how you can help a senior family member struggling with substance abuse. 

How To Help a Senior Family Member Overcome Addiction

An Overview of Senior Citizen Substance Abuse

Up to 17% of adults who are over age 60 are affected by alcohol or prescription drug abuse. Unfortunately, due to a lack of research data, insufficient knowledge, and rushed office visits, healthcare providers may struggle to recognize symptoms of substance abuse in their elderly patients. The situation is complicated by the fact that the symptoms of substance abuse mimic common medical disorders in seniors, including depression, diabetes, and dementia.

Glendale addiction therapy sees both types of substance abuse among senior citizens: the “hardy survivor,” which refers to adults who have been struggling with substance abuse for a long time and reached age 65, and the “late onset” clients, which describes people who begin abusing substances later in their life. Regardless of the age of a client or when their addiction began, there are a variety of effective treatment options available. 

What are the Causes of Addiction in Seniors?

Just as with younger people, there are many reasons why a senior citizen might turn to substance abuse. For many seniors, severe health problems or significant life events take a severe emotional toll, and they may feel a lack of support to cope in a healthier way. Some of the events that can contribute to substance abuse or addiction include:

  • The changes involved with retirement
  • Death of a family member, spouse, friend, or pet
  • Loss of income or financial strain
  • Loss of purpose associated with getting older or retiring
  • The stress of moving, selling a lifelong home, or needing assisted living care
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Family conflict
  • Decline of mental or physical health due to depression, memory loss, declining mobility, surgeries, changing relationships with family and friends, and loss of independence

Is Substance Abuse Among the Elderly Dangerous?

Seniors are more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol than younger people. As people age, their ability to metabolize begins to decrease, leading to an increased brain and body sensitivity to any kind of substance or food. Even if a person isn’t addicted, this decreased metabolic ability can make elevate the risks of alcohol and even prescription drugs. Additionally, the prescription medications used to treat common conditions among the elderly, such as anxiety, pain, and insomnia, are highly addictive and commonly prescribed. Glendale drug treatment center sees an increased number of seniors addicted to benzodiazepines each year. 

What are the Symptoms of Addiction in Senior Citizens?

The symptoms of substance abuse in the elderly are not unlike those seen in younger people, but can be harder to identify because they are similar to challenges faced by elderly people who are not addicted to substances. It’s important to pay attention to unusual changes in your elderly loved one for an early and accurate diagnosis.

Some signs of substance abuse include:

  • Memory problems
  • Changes in sleeping habits, such as excessive sleeping or insomnia
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Irritability, sadness, or depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Changes in eating habits, ranging from over-indulging to skipping meals
  • Frequently wanting to be alone
  • Avoidance of personal hygiene
  • Losing touch with loved ones and lack of interest in resuming relationships
  • Lack of interest in usual activities

Since these symptoms are common for elderly people, it may be challenging to determine if a senior is abusing substances or dealing with natural changes from age. But once an addiction is identified, seek treatment services from a Glendale addiction clinic right away. 

What Should I Look for in a Drug Treatment Center?

It’s ideal to work with a clinic that has experience with seniors. However, any treatment program is better than none, and addiction treatment programs should not be overlooked even if they lack extensive experience with the elderly. 

A Glendale addiction treatment program should offer case management services, which are especially helpful for the elderly because they often lack the needed social support for recovery. Access to medical, psychiatric, and social resources is also crucial. The most effective treatment programs for the elderly include cognitive behavioral approaches, group-based programs, individual counseling, family therapy, and community linked services. 

Get Compassionate Addiction Treatment for Seniors in Glendale

If you have a senior loved one who is struggling with substance abuse, Corebella Health and Wellness is standing by with compassionate and effective treatment to get your loved one on the road to recovery. We are experienced in working with senior citizen addiction and offer a variety of treatment approaches. Call us today to schedule a consultation and begin your journey to health and recovery.


Corebella Health & Wellness

Corebella Health & Wellness

Tempe Location
2600 E Southern Ave Suite E-1
Tempe, Arizona 85282

Office: (480) 409-0322

Glendale Location
5700 W Olive Ave, Suite 107
Glendale, AZ 85302

Office: (602) 4929595

Scottsdale Location
6565 E Greenway Parkway Suite 102,
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Office: (602) 649-0677

Email: [email protected]
FAX: 877-559-2816