When we think about the classic image of a gutter bum drunk or a homeless drug addict, the last thing that crosses our minds is the elderly. But the simple fact remains that drug addiction and alcoholism affects every class, race, ethnicity – and even age – equally.
While it certainly is uncommon to see cases where elderly people are seeking out illicit drugs on the street, drug addiction and alcoholism most certainly affects the elderly.
What are the most commonly abused substances in the elderly?
Prescription medications tend to be the most commonly abused substances in the elderly. Approximately one in four elderly adults are prescribed a medication that has the potential for abuse, such as painkillers, benzodiazepines, and various sedatives.
One study estimated that approximately 11% of the elderly prescribed potentially addictive medications abuse them. The elderly most certainly also suffer from alcoholism just the same as younger people do. One study found that approximately 1-3% of all elderly people suffers from alcoholism.
Is it ever too late for treatment?
It is never too late for someone to start treatment. The dangers of drug and/or alcohol misuse tend to go up exponentially in the elderly. For example, a study found that 25% of the elderly diagnosed with dementia were also diagnosed with an alcohol-use disorder.
Furthermore, more than 20% of the elderly diagnosed with depression also suffered from an alcohol-use disorder. These demonstrate that treatment typically can only serve to improve the quality of life for the elderly.
What is the success rate for the elderly?
Despite the old popular notion “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks”, the elderly tend to thrive in treatment and subsequent recovery. In fact, studies showed that the elderly typically fared better than their younger counterparts at achieving long-term sobriety. The study found the more than 20% of the elderly treated for alcoholism remained abstinent for more than four years.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.