Home > Elder Care Guide

Drug Abuse Treatment Options for Seniors

With advanced age comes a host of nagging physical ailments and an overall lessening of energy and mental acuity. But your golden years are supposed to be the time when you enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of labors. Hopefully you’re surrounded by friends and family, with enough money in a pension and savings account to see you through the rest of your life without much stress. While senior citizens have the wisdom of all of their life experiences at their fingertips, it doesn’t make them immune to problems with drugs and alcohol. According to a major report from a couple years back, more than four million Americans aged fifty or older used drugs that aren’t prescribed, or used their prescriptions improperly every single year. It’s clear why this is the case, with all of the aches and pains seniors deal with as the years pass. But what’s to be done about it? Here are a few of the drug abuse treatment options for seniors.

The first step remains the same regardless of the individual’s age. Treatment of any kind cannot be undertaken unless the person is question is willing to admit they have a problem. This is one area where seniors are at a serious disadvantage. People above a certain age were raised to keep their problems to themselves, to ‘grin and bear it’ and to avoid airing their dirty laundry in public. Admitting an addiction is to them like admitting a weakness, and simply shouldn’t be spoken about. Getting a senior to come clean about drug problems can be a difficult challenge. It often takes a family intervention, and even then the process isn’t always successful. But it will always be worth the attempt.

Once this hurdle has been crossed, seniors should meet with their primary health care providers. Since seniors tend to have a more delicate health picture than young adults, they’ll want to make sure that any treatment plan takes their other heath requirements into consideration. Depending on the severity of the addiction the treatment can probably be integrated with whatever regular care they currently receive. Many seniors deal with prescription drug addiction, and sometimes these are the very drugs that were prescribed to manage other ailments. The primary care physician should be involved with determining alternatives or replacement therapies, and how the senior could be weaned off of the drug in question.

After the initial conversations, the next issue to face is whether the senior should be admitted into an inpatient treatment center. This frequently brings up all sorts of fears. Seniors take pride in their self-reliance, and their ability to continue managing their day-to-day lives. Most people do not want to enter into facilities, with a concern that they may never be allowed to leave. But an inpatient program is often the best option. This allows the senior to have constant supervision and care, which will minimize the side effects of withdrawal and make sure that any health problems aggravated by this process are handled immediately. It’s also crucial for addicts to step out of their regular lives and the things that trigger their addictive behavior. An inpatient facility will give them the time to focus completely on their treatment, helping things progress faster and hopefully end in a permanent resolution.

So what sort of drug abuse treatment facility is right for the senior citizen? First of all, the best option is one that’s close to home. They’ll feel less uprooted from their lives, and family will be able to visit more easily. You should also look for a program that focuses on seniors, so they’ll be able to more easily relate to the other patients in the facility. A holistic approach is also your best bet, with treatment that addresses social, emotional, physical and mental issues with equal time and care.

More to Read: