4 Myths About The Elderly And Substance Abuse

When someone tries to picture what a person with substance abuse looks like, most think of someone who is young, possibly even a teenager. Rarely do people think that the elderly would be associated with substance abuse, but it can be quite common.

The NCBI states that substance abuse is becoming more and more prevalent among adults who are age 60 and older. For information about substance abuse treatment for yourself or a loved one, please call 800-653-7143 and learn more about the myths about the elderly and substance abuse.

Myth 1: The Elderly’s Drug Use Is Heavily Monitored

Most people believe that it is almost impossible for the elderly to abuse any kind of drug because of how their access is monitored. Actually, most abused prescription drugs come from prescriptions written for older adults.

The NIDA reports that older patients are more prone to types of substance abuse, such as prescription drug abuse, because of the fact that they are often given multiple long-term prescription medications.

Elderly And Substance Abuse

Substance abuse in the elderly can exacerbate already present health problems.

Being on a fixed income can actually make access more difficult. In those cases, it is common for them to take leftover medications from a friend or relative, which isn’t done through monitored channels.

Myth 2: Treatment For Older Adults Isn’t Worth It

When loved ones learn that an older adult in their family has a substance abuse problem, the often believe that the person’s age makes seeking treatment isn’t going to be worthwhile or effective. Some say that it’s because the person is no longer active, or that the person is too old. In truth, untreated substance abuse in older adults can lead to serious problems and further complicate any conditions that they have.

The DEA, and other groups, stresses that addictive substances have unpredictable effects on the mind and body, which can make them incredibly dangerous. Ignoring substance abuse treatment for older adults can steal any time they have left.

Myth 3: The Elderly Use Because Of Independence In Their “Golden Years”

It is a popular belief that once a person retires, they have an overabundance of time and independence on their hands. They’ve spent the majority of their lives working, so they deserve some self-indulgence now that they’ve reached their “golden years.”

Any alcohol or drug use may be seen by some as casual and therefore okay. Ageism is often to blame in cases like this, assigning different ideas about quality of life and attitude to older individuals. Some might think that the abusive substance makes the person happy, when in reality it is usually how they self-medicate and cope with other issues in their life like depression and loneliness.

More Seniors Seeking Addiction Treatment

Myth 4: Older Adults Find Drug & Alcohol Use Unacceptable

As many of the individuals who develop substance abuse problems are teens and young adults, the common image of older adults and substance abuse is one of disapproval and disappointment. Most forget that substance abuse and addiction is a chronic condition that is heavily prone to relapses, which can explain why the elderly respond to the news that a younger loved one is addicted.

They may be experiencing a relapse from an addiction they had in their younger days and their attitude about substance abuse may be heavily warped by the addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please know that help is available. Call 800-653-7143 for more information about what treatment options are available for you.

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