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Substance abuse problem rising among elderly

Substance abuse problem rising among elderly

Substance abuse problem rising among elderly

March 8th, 2018 | ASAH Team

Substance abuse is a rapidly growing health problem in the United States. The condition is not only affecting adolescents and youngsters, but also senior citizens. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 1 million individuals above 65 years of age had a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2014. This included 978,000 adults with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and 161,000 with an illicit drug use disorder.

In fact, the number of older Americans suffering from SUD is all set to increase to 5.7 million by 2020. The above disquieting figure should serve as a wake-up call for everyone, including experts and policymakers. With the spike in mental disorders and substance abuse among senior citizens, the burden on the state will increase remarkably. Despite the gravity of the problem, psychiatric disorders like depression often go undiagnosed and untreated, especially among senior citizens.

One of the prominent reasons behind the increased rate of depression among the elderly is the overlapping of depressive symptoms with those of the old age. Therefore, many a times, depression remains undiagnosed among the elderly people. Some of the other key reasons for the delay in the diagnosis of depression are lack of knowledge, ignorance about psychiatric disorders, insufficient resources, etc. Therefore, in order to overcome the gaps, it is necessary to ensure adequate resources to make the entire diagnosis procedure easy.

Ins and outs of substance abuse among elderly

The problem of substance abuse among senior citizens is pronounced to ignore.  Based on their pattern of drinking, the elderly people addicted to alcohol can be classified into two different categories—hardy survivors and late onset. While hardy survivors include those individuals who have been abusing substances for several years and have reached the age of 65, another category is late onset that includes individuals addicted to any substance in their later life.

The problem of substance abuse among the American senior citizens has emerged as one of the fastest growing problems. The problem of substance abuse among senior citizens can be triggered by a number of factors. Some of these factors are as follows:

  • Retirement from job
  • Death of a loved one
  • Financial loss or trouble
  • Relocation
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Family troubles
  • Mental health issues like depression
  • Declining physical health
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pain and stress

Given the growing menace of SUD among senior citizens, it has become important to be aware about some of the common signs and symptoms related to the problem of substance abuse among elderly. Some of these common symptoms are as mentioned below:

  • Memory issues
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Unexplained damages
  • Irritability
  • Feeling of sadness
  • Depression
  • Prolonged pain
  • Altered eating habits
  • Preference to stay alone
  • Loss of contact with loved ones
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss

Approaching treatment helps

With the shift in the attitude toward substance abuse, there has been a greater awareness about the effective treatment options available for recovery. A number of effective treatment approaches are now available for patients, irrespective of their age and gender. Therefore, it is important to undergo the right treatment without any delay to avoid any repercussions on health and life.

Once diagnosed with the problem of substance abuse, it becomes important to offer the right kind of help without being authoritative. It is very likely that the elderly are unaware about the dangers associated with substance abuse. Therefore, one must try to stay empathetic and give respect while still being clear in his or her communication.

The elderly can avail different types of treatments for substance abuse, such as detoxification, support groups, therapists, rehabilitation and 12-step programs. It is, however, important to have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned individuals to gain a better understanding about their condition and make the right form of treatment available.

If you know someone who is addicted to any form of substance and looking for details about the substance abuse treatment centers in Arizona, contact the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline for help. Call our 24/7 substance abuse helpline 866-857-5777 or chat online with one of our experts to know about the best substance abuse rehab in Arizona.


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