Drug and Alcohol Rehab for the Elderly

Elderly substance abuse statistics highlight the need for detox and rehab for this generation

When considering drug and alcohol rehab for the elderly, there are specific things to keep in mind. Abuse and addiction of the elderly is increasing due to the fact that most seniors, and soon to be seniors, are from the boomer generation born between 1946 and 1954. Elderly substance abuse statistics reveal that many people from this generation were indoctrinated into the drug culture of the 1960’s advocating “turning on and tuning in” by way of drugs and alcohol. So it comes as no surprise that many boomers are taking their drug and alcohol abuse and addictions into their old age.

America’s population of adults over the age of sixty-five totaled 46.2 million in 2014. It is estimated that by 2060 there will be 98 million Americans over the age of sixty-five, equaling over 20% of the U.S. population. Just how many seniors will bring drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness into the golden years remains to be seen, but trends indicate a growing concern.

Many baby boomers who experimented with drugs and alcohol in the 1960’s and 1970’s are more apt to abuse illicit drugs, alcohol and prescription medications. A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services study reports that the use of illicit drugs has increased among adults aged 50 to 59 years old. Some of the most abused substances are: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opiates and prescription medications. Elderly substance abuse statistics show that up to 20% of the entire elderly population struggles with one or more substance abuse or mental disorders.

Some of the problems that elderly substance abuse presents are:

  1. The elderly cannot metabolize drugs and alcohol as well as when they did when they were young.
  2. The elderly also have brain sensitivity to drugs and alcohol.
  3. The elderly may try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
  4. The elderly are at risk of substance abuse when they are isolated and lonely, have lost a spouse or loved one, have financial problems, are facing a terminal illness or other physical or mental problems.

Alcohol abuse tops the list among the elderly, but there is a growing concern that the non-medical use of prescription drugs will pose a major problem also. Elderly substance abuse statistics show an increase in prescription drug abuse, especially with sleeping pills (Ambien), benzodiazepines (Klonopin) and opioid painkillers (Oxycodone). And women tend to exceed abuse of prescription drugs more than men. The abuse of illicit and prescriptions drugs combined poses serious problems with falling, mental impairment, depression and other problems among the elderly.

Substance abuse treatment for the elderly may begin with an intervention by family, friends and the physician of the patient. Showing concern for the problems that the patient is facing and offering solutions in a caring, gentle manner is considered the most effective approach. The elderly seem to do better among their peers in a drug and alcohol rehab facility. They may feel uncomfortable in a rehab with teens and young adults, and they seem to participate more among their own age group.

Many seniors face other physical and mental problems beside their substance abuse. These can all be treated at a specialized drug and alcohol rehab facility for the elderly. With an increase in elderly substance abuse, there is a growing need for more age-specific substance abuse treatment for the elderly and also a growing need for more elderly rehab facilities. An elderly person may experience the detox process much differently than a younger person would. Failing health and mental deterioration can easily make the detox process more difficult for a senior citizen. Taking all these problems into consideration, the medical staff should be specially trained for drug and alcohol rehab for the elderly.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.