The Ultimate Guide to Recovering From Addiction for Seniors

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The Ultimate Guide to Recovering From Addiction for Seniors

Addiction. It can be one of the biggest hurdles somebody goes through in their life. 

Currently, there are over 21 million Americans that suffer from some sort of addiction. 

What is even worse is when you are older and are working on recovering from addiction. You may have to reverse a lifetime of habits and you may not have the support system that you once did. 

If you or a loved one that is a senior is seeking addiction recovery, you may have no idea where to begin. Is it too late by the time you reach that age? 

The answer is no. This guide will show you how to recognize the signs for certain addiction and then show you the steps that you need to take to get addiction treatment. 

Drug Addiction 

Let’s start off with something that a lot of the senior population could be vulnerable to. As you know, when you get older in life, it will take longer for the body to physically recover from certain things. 

This is where medication comes in. As a result, senior citizens are more likely to be on prescribed medications than any other age group. 

To emphasize this, 89% of all Americans that are 65 and older are currently on some sort of prescribed medication. How does this compare to other age groups? 

Well, the 50-64 year old age group drops down to 75%. Next, the 30-49 year old age group is only on prescribed medication 51% of the time. Finally, adults under 30 are only on medication 38% of the time. 

These are just adults that are taking at least one prescribed medicine. The numbers get more jarring when you step up to four or more prescribed medications. 

About 54% of people over 65 are taking four or more prescribed medications. The next age group (50-64) has a big drop off with 32%. Then, you have just 13% of 30-49 year old people in this category and just 7% of people that are under 30. 

What does all of this mean? It means that the most likely people in general to be on medication are senior citizens. It also means that senior citizens are the most likely people that are going to be on multiple types of medication. 

As a result of this, by default, senior citizens are already going to be more vulnerable to drug addiction just based on the prescribed drugs alone that they have access to compared to younger age groups. Because of this, you need to recognize the signs of drug abuse. 

Signs of Drug Abuse 

Now that you are aware of how vulnerable the senior citizen population is to abusing drugs, let’s take a closer look at how you can tell someone may be suffering from drug addiction. 

The first sign is easy with prescribed drugs. If there is a pattern of someone needing to have their prescription refilled sooner than expected, that could mean that they are regularly taking more than their prescribed amount at one time. 

What this means is that they could be self-medicating and they could also be getting addicted to the pain relief that some of these medications bring. This leads to the next point. 

Pay attention to what happens to someone if they go a few days without prescribed medication that they are addicted to. What can happen here is depending on how seriously addicted they are, they can start to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. 

Some of the most notable things can be someone acting anxious or someone that has quick mood swings. Other things people can do in this situation are get depressed and then get strong cravings for this medication. 

At times, seniors may not even be aware that they are abusing their medication. If you are a loved one, reinforce the appropriate amount that they should be taking. 

Alcohol Addiction

While alcohol addiction is a problem for any age group, the consequences of alcohol addiction can get deadly as you get older. That is because the older you get, the higher percentage chance there is of you dying from alcohol use disorder. 

This is particularly true for those over 50 years old. Those from ages 50-64 are 32% of the people in the United States that die from excessive alcohol use. That is almost double the number of people who die from excessive alcohol use that are under 35. 

So, what about people that are over the age of 65? Well, they rank highly in a slightly different category. About 86% of people over 65 who die from excessive alcohol use die from chronic conditions. 

This means that this age group is the most likely to suffer from a physical disorder from it rather than people under 35. Those people are more likely to die in a car crash involving alcohol. 

The point of all of this is that if alcohol addiction is not curved, senior citizens leave themselves vulnerable to die from a chronic condition as a direct result of it. 

Signs of Alcohol Abuse 

Part of dealing with alcohol addiction is knowing the signs of alcohol abuse. One of the biggest signs whether it is you or a loved one is the person suffering drinking large amounts of alcohol alone. 

It is generally recommended to not average more than a few drinks per day, otherwise you run the risk of suffering from alcohol use disorder. So, if you or a loved one have a lot of empty bottles that start to add up, this could be a sign. 

Like drug abuse, alcohol abuse can also lead to dealing with withdrawal if you are not careful. This is because the body gets to a point where they are physically craving said alcohol. 

So, what can happen? Similar things to drug withdrawal. This can include having a headache, getting cravings, feeling fatigued, and also feeling nauseous. 


One big factor that could play into drug or alcohol abuse is loneliness. Let’s face it, there are certain aspects of older people’s lives that could result in them feeling more lonely. 

This can happen if they are experiencing empty nest syndrome, lost a spouse recently, suffering from health problems, do not have many friends, and more. 

If you are someone that is older and is feeling lonely, you are not alone. About 30% of older people in this survey reported feelings of loneliness. 

When people abuse alcohol or drugs, they tend to do it because they are escaping some sort of pain. These can easily be feelings of anxiety or depression that they are trying to numb. Well, loneliness can be a big reason why people start feeling like that in the first place. 

See if you or a loved one are experiencing loneliness if you suspect a loved one is abusing alcohol or drugs. 

Recovering From Addiction 

Ok, so now you have a better idea of what causes addiction and what the signs of it are. Now, you need to work on tackling it head-on and getting the treatment that you need. There are a few ways that you can go about this. 

Have an Intervention 

If you are a loved one reading this, it may be time to sit down with your loved one and have an intervention. Bring yourself and others this person cares about and sit them down and tell them why their behavior is a problem for you and themselves. 

You need to speak from the heart while remaining calm and non-confrontational. Once you get your message across, you have to hope the person is ready to get the help that they need

Make a Commitment 

Once you have the confrontation, it is time to make a commitment to get healthy and recover from whatever addiction they are suffering from. You need to get them to say what it is that they want to do to get better and make a plan to get themselves there. 

If they do that, try to have a plan of action in mind to stay sober. One thing that you can do is take them to a care center. 

Get the Addiction Treatment You Need 

The last step is to start receiving the treatment that you need. Recovering from addiction is a process. 

First, you have to admit you have a problem. Then, you need to commit to your plan of action and check yourself in to a care center near you. 

If you are not sure if it needs to get to this point, see the signs of drug or alcohol abuse to make sure this is a move you need to make. 

Are you ready to take the next step? Message us today. 

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