When you think of the grip that substance abuse has on many in this country, the impact goes far beyond teens and young adults.  Older Americans are increasingly battling substance use disorders, and this also takes a toll on the family unit.

When adults go to care for their elderly parents, one thing they do not expect to encounter is addiction. According to a recent WellCare survey, adults are now struggling to deal with the substance abuse issues of their aging parents.

New Survey Reveals Concerns About Senior Addiction

WellCare has just released the results of an online representative survey of Americans ages 30-55 who have a child ages 13 or older as well as a living parent or in-law.  The surveyed revealed that more than half (51 percent) of respondents have concerns about prescription drug abuse among their older parents.

There were greater concerns among adult children who had a parent or in-law living in their home. Among these respondents, 40 percent were concerned about alcohol abuse versus just 26 percent in cases where the homes were separate.

Many of the people polled admitted that they have no information about the prescription drugs that their parents are taking, how long they have been taking them, or how much alcohol a parent consumes.

The Growing Problem of Addiction in Older Adults

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, there are currently 2.5 million older adults with an alcohol or drug problem. The highest rates of alcoholism in the U.S. occur among widowers over the age of 75. Prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest-growing problems among older adults, with record numbers of painkillers, tranquilizers, and benzodiazepines in the hands of elderly patients despite the warnings against using many of these drugs for this group.

Unfortunately, 75 percent of the WellCare survey participants admitted that they might not be able to recognize the signs of addiction in a parent. The NCADD indicates that some of the common signs of an alcohol or drug problem in an older person include:

  • Chronic and unsupported health complaints
  • Secretive or solitary drinking
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities
  • Depression or hostility
  • Confusion or memory loss

Unfortunately, the signs of substance abuse are often confused with the signs of aging or other health issues. There is also a reluctance to tell older adults what they can and cannot do, even when the matter becomes serious.  There is a common misconception that older adults will not be receptive to addiction treatment, but this simply is not true.

Addiction treatment

Where to Turn for Addiction Treatment for Your Parent

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services classifies substance abuse among seniors in two ways. A “hardy survivor” is someone who has been a substance abuser for many years and has reached the age of 65 or beyond. A “late onset” is a person who develops an addiction later in life. No matter which category your parent fits into, addiction treatment options are available to help him or her find a healthier way to live.

Once an older adult realizes the risks that he or she has been taking and the harm caused by substance abuse, the senior may agree to get help. At The Recovery Village, we treat every client with compassion and respect. Our comprehensive addiction treatment programs are customized to suit each person’s needs, and we would be happy to discuss your particular situation. Contact us now to learn more about admissions.

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