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How Older Adults Can Get Help With Addiction

Addiction Resource does not favor or support any specific recovery center, nor do we claim to ensure the quality, validity, or effectiveness of any particular treatment center. No one should assume the information provided on Addiction Resource as authoritative and should always defer to the advice and care provided by a medical doctor. Behavioral therapy is often used during substance abuse and addiction treatment, as it helps individuals to find and recognize the connections between potential triggers, negative thoughts, and subsequent actions. Emotional, social, or physical triggers may be unique to an older adult and may center around certain life events or circumstances that a younger person may not relate to. When a comorbid mental illness is also present, integrated treatment models that use teams of medical and mental health professionals to treat both disorders simultaneously may be important. With an older individual who may also have a medical or mental health condition and who may be taking multiple medications, it may be even more essential for all medical professionals to be on the same page and working together.

This guide helps professional care providers and administrators understand the role of culture in the delivery of mental health and substance use services. It describes cultural competence and discusses racial, ethnic, and cultural considerations. Naloxone does not treat OUD or pain by itself, but it can reverse potentially fatal opioid overdoses. It is so effective that WHO lists it as “an essential medication.”166 Older adults are at increased risk of opioid overdose. The TIP consensus panel recommends yearly screening for all adults ages 60 and older and when major life changes occur (e.g., retirement, loss of partner/spouse, changes in health). For more accurate histories, ask questions about substance use in the recent past while asking about other health behaviors (e.g., exercise, smoking, diet).

Service Utilization

Older individuals who misuse substances may require treatment even if they do not meet DSM-5 criteria for an SUD. Quantity-frequency measures may be less effective than assessment of impact on overall well-being and quality of life in identifying substance misuse for this population. Healthcare and behavioral health service providers must determine these effects before focusing on interventions and treatments. Some older adults turn to drugs or alcohol to cope.100 Older adults also face many aging-related physical and mental health issues that may increase their risk of substance misuse and make detection and treatment difficult. The demand for services to address substance misuse in older adults is increasing. The journal Today’s Geriatric Medicine published that older adults use prescription drugs three times more than other demographics do, which may increase the rate of abuse and dependency in this population.

  • In addition to choosing the type of treatment that’s best for you, you’ll also have to decide if that treatment is inpatient (you would stay at a facility) or outpatient (you stay in your home during treatment).
  • This is an intensive form of treatment that includes a structured schedule, individual and group therapy, meals, and recreation.
  • The goal of an intervention is to help someone see the need for, and willingly enter, a treatment program.
  • Taking part in 12-step program meetings such as Alcoholic Anonymous is an important approach to relapse prevention and treatment in general.
  • This guide helps professional care providers and administrators understand the role of culture in the delivery of mental health and substance use services.
  • This would lead to more person-centered care and decrease the need for multiple appointments, which can be particularly challenging for older adults.

Older adults face barriers at many levels in accessing SUD treatment and mental health services. Recognizing, understanding, and working to remove barriers will help all older clients receive the best possible care for substance misuse. Self-help and 12-Step programs may have age-specific groups and meetings for older adults that can provide a safe haven and supportive peer network for individuals in recovery to help prevent episodes of relapse. SAMHSA also recommends that a case manager who can check in with an elderly person regularly after leaving rehab, or a community-centered program, may be helpful to watch for signs of relapse. Friends and family members, and members of an elderly individual’s community, can all be important parts of a healthy support system that will enhance addiction treatment and promote long-term recovery. Adults over the age of 65 are enrolled in the federal Medicare insurance program.

Physical And Mental Consequences Of Drug Abuse

With age, one departs from these roles naturally in the vast majority of cases, such as through social isolation due to age-group peer mortality or retirement. Physicians rely on the criteria outlined by the DSM to diagnose substance abuse disorder in the general population. That is perhaps the main reason for misdiagnosis and lack of treatment of seniors – these criteria are less relevant to them.

  • Dr. Irwin stresses that we’re all vulnerable to addiction under the right circumstances.
  • Too often we are so angry or discouraged that we take it for granted when things are going better.
  • Up to a quarter of all prescription drugs in the U.S. are used by older adults, and this increased exposure to drugs increases the risk of addiction or other negative consequences.
  • Support groups are often an essential part of a substance abuse treatment program and may be especially helpful after a more intensive treatment plan, or a stay in a residential program, has ended.

When asked how alcohol problems are treated, people commonly think of 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab but may have difficulty naming other options. In fact, there are a variety of treatment methods currently available, thanks to significant advances in the field over the past 60 years. Alcohol-related problems—which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often—are among the most significant public health issues in the United States.

Statistics on Substance Abuse & Seniors

Communication should be as clear and straightforward as possible, taking into account age-related brain changes, both normal and abnormal. It is easy to get frustrated with an older person abusing substances, sometimes more so than with one in another age group, because they’re very defensive and set in their ways. It can be challenging for seniors to remember when and how much of each of their medications to take, especially when their minds are fuzzy and they take multiple drugs for relatively long periods. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is another therapy method that helps people to recognize that change is necessary while promoting acceptance in a nonthreatening and non-confrontational manner.

  • Addiction, or SUD, is a brain disease, it’s treatable, and it has nothing to do with a person’s moral character.
  • Better integration of SUD and general medical treatment, and increased attention to social determinants of health, are important future directions for research and treatment of SUD in elders.
  • However, opioid addictions can develop quickly since these drugs have a high potential for abuse.
  • The New York Times publishes that as of 2010, between 6 and 8 million American senior citizens battled a substance abuse or mental health disorder.
  • Illicit drug use is more common among current older adults than among previous generations of older adults.
  • The FDA typically requires Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials to be conducted to determine if the drug or device can be approved for further use.

Rehab centers may implement specific programs for older adults as well, which can foster a sense of belonging. Group therapy can mitigate these feelings of loneliness, but older adults may have fewer opportunities to participate in addiction groups. Addiction is an isolating disorder, and feelings of isolation can trigger alcohol and drug use. When used appropriately, these replacement opioids do not cause euphoria, but they do reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. For many people in addiction recovery, faith and spirituality play a crucial role in their path to sobriety.

What happens in a clinical trial or study?

Having older adults enrolled in clinical trials and studies helps researchers get the information they need to develop the right treatments for this age group. Belonging to an older cohort decreased the probability of ever receiving treatment (Blanco et al., 2015). The NSDUH does not publish disaggregated treatment data on individuals ages 65 and older. However, the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), which collects data on publicly funded substance use treatment admissions, found that individuals ages 65 to 69 represented only 1.18 percent of the total admissions. Among those admitted, 38.8 percent were for alcohol, 33 percent for opioids, and 5 percent for cocaine (TEDS-2017, 2017). Older adults have lower prevalence of substance use than younger adults, which may lead clinicians to think that older adults do not use psychoactive substances or develop SUD.

what is the best treatment for substance abuse for older adults

These sorts of injuries can pose a greater risk to health than in younger adults and coincide with a possible longer recovery time. Sex can be a risk factor for substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse, in older adults. Studies have shown that older women are more prone to the harmful effects of alcohol than older men due to their lower body mass and certain biological factors. Additionally, women may drink less often what is the best treatment for substance abuse for older adults than men, but the same amount of alcohol will, on average, affect a woman more severely than a man. This is why it’s vital for older women – and all people – to enjoy alcoholic beverages and other substances responsibly and mindfully. This guide examines the types of interventions that support successful reentry for adults with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders who are leaving jail/prison.

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