A growing number of older Americans are struggling with addiction, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Many people wrongfully assume that if someone has reached a certain age without developing a substance abuse problem then they are out of the proverbial woods, but Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef and the other medical experts here at Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida, know that anyone at any age can become the victim of addiction.
According to The Times, an estimated 2.8 million older Americans abuse alcohol, and researchers expect that number to jump to 5.7 million by 2020. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, as many as three in 10 adults between 75 and 85 experience drinking problems. The rate of drug addiction among seniors is also on the rise, with one study finding that illicit drug use among 50- to 64-year-olds increased from 2.7 percent to 6 percent between 2002 and 2013.
As you age, your body's ability to process various substances may change, which could put you at an increased risk of addiction. Additionally, some research has indicated that older people may be more likely to suffer from depression, which we have long believed can trigger or worsen substance abuse. In fact, since Dr. El-Yousef founded Fairwinds Treatment Center 25 years ago, he has used our unique dual diagnosis methodology to address these kinds of underlying issues in conjunction with clinical treatment. Other such challenges may include anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder. These conditions often go unacknowledged and undiagnosed, but without treating them, true recovery from addiction is impossible.
Sandra D., a 58-year-old who asked that her last name not be used, tells The New York Times that she has seen her father develop alcoholism late in life.
"He and his friends meet for cocktails at about 3 or 4 and then he passes out, which he calls a 'nap,' " Ms. D. tells the source. "My dad didn't plan out his retirement well. My mom was very ill for many years before she passed away, and my dad was a caregiver. He was pretty well looking after the house and taking care of her. When she passed away, there was a very big void for him."
Indeed, traumatic experiences such as the loss of a spouse can also contribute to addiction among the elderly. Even retirement can cause trauma if it results in a sense of lost identity and purposelessness.
If your loved one is an older American who seems to be struggling with substance abuse, it may be tempting to "let them be," out of a misplaced sense of respect for their privacy. However, it is absolutely imperative that they receive the proper care. Untreated, addiction can have devastating consequences, hurting the sufferer as well as their friends and family members. If the person in question ever gets behind the wheel, remember that even innocent bystanders could be at risk.
A lasting recovery is possible with the personalized combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling that we offer here at Fairwinds Treatment Center, one of the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in the world. We focus on inner and outer healing, helping our patients work toward comprehensive wellness. Don't let your loved one suffer alone — call us for more information on how to help today.