Much like with their younger counterparts who struggle with addiction, the elderly can get hooked on alcohol or drugs for a wide variety of reasons. There is no one common all-encompassing reason suitable for explaining why seniors abuse various substances.
The fact is there are numerous explanations as to why substance abuse is on the rise among senior citizens. They are often dealing with struggles that put them in a greater position to turn to substances, legal and otherwise, to deal with challenges related to physical and emotional pain.
Reasons for Substance Abuse in the Elderly
These challenges can be found in their relationships, the loss of a loved one due to divorce or death, or a change in their living situation. Seniors who are forced to leave their homes for an assisted living facility may have trouble coping with this development.
Other major life changes can also spark a willingness to turn drink or narcotics as a respite. Many financial hardships can weigh heavily on the mind of a senior citizen and retirement can play a role in this situation. Seniors who are forced to live on fixed incomes may not take well to this new arrangement and some seniors miss being part of the workforce.
They can tend to feel detached from the world, losing their social relationships with co-workers and friends that were largely dependent on their place of employment.
Physical disabilities and ailments are also strong factors that can play a role in the likelihood of a senior citizen turning to alcohol or drugs to find comfort. Many of the drugs that seniors abuse are prescription painkillers or sedatives that they have been given to manage pain from an injury or medical procedure.
Seniors dealing with depression, anxiety, and other similar mental health issues may also be given certain types of prescribed medications that are prone to abuse. But it’s unfair to think of these seniors as desperate junkies itching for a “fix”, many of them are introduced to an addiction all too unwillingly as they mistakenly take too many pills or the wrong medication.
This can spark an addictive tendency upon which they become too dependent in a brief period of time.
Risks Associated with Addiction in Seniors
There are significant inherent risks associated with alcoholism and drug abuse in anyone, young or old. However, the elderly are at a higher percentage of suffering these risks due to their advanced age. Their bodies don’t react to influences in the same way they once did.
It can be harder for seniors to manage the effects of these hard drugs and alcohol. Their brains are more sensitive to the impacts of these substances and the symptoms that come with them, such as feelings of tranquility or euphoria, elevated heart rate, and dulled senses can become extremely dangerous.
Some prescription medications can be very strong and seniors can easily get hooked on their after-effects to the point of developing strong dependencies.
Identifying Signs of Addiction in Senior Citizens
The symptoms of addiction can be tough to notice for a couple of reasons. For starters, seniors may keep their addictions well-hidden, not only refusing to ask for help in struggling with their drug or alcohol problem but remaining secretive about their behaviors.
In addition, many outward signs of addiction may appear to be something else entirely. The common indicators of a substance abuse condition can resemble similar health issues such as depression, dementia, and anxiety.
They may also exhibit certain symptoms that might be misdiagnosed as other serious emerging health problems such as memory loss, insomnia, adjustments in eating habits, unexplained pain or physical injuries, a lack of attention to personal hygiene, and a growing disinterest in staying active or being social with family and friends.
Since substance abuse symptoms can be so easily confused for other health problems it’s absolutely vital that you try to ascertain if a senior citizen is exhibiting these issues as the start of a serious addiction problem or as some other medical concern.
Drug addiction is no laughing matter so it’s critical that you are able to determine if a senior citizen is dealing with a substance abuse problem and find a suitable treatment program for senior care casselberry fl that can address the issue with compassion and sensitivity.
Many seniors will suffer in silence because they feel ashamed of their problem and the road to recovery may not begin until an intervention is attempted. That could depend greatly on friends, family, and loved ones recognizing that a senior is in trouble and hurting.