Drug Treatment for the Elderly

Substance abuse among the elderly is a hidden epidemic that is often pushed under the rug. Senior citizens develop alcohol or drug problems for a variety of reasons that include coping with loneliness and despair, grieving over the loss of a loved one, coping with pain, and misusing prescription drugs.

Because of their older age, differences in metabolism and higher risk of drug interactions due to multiple prescriptions and the combined effects of alcohol, the elderly are more at risk for adverse health effects caused by alcohol and prescription drug abuse and misuse. Drug treatment for an older person can help your loved one live a healthier and longer life free of drug and alcohol addiction.

Drug Treatment for the Elderly: Why it’s Important

It’s important that elderly addicts receive help for their substance abuse because they face certain complications that don’t exist in younger drug and alcohol addicts. The body of an elderly person tends to recover more slowly from addiction and damage than it does for younger people. Certain ailments that are common among older people can be worsened by alcohol or misuse of prescription drugs, including depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment, cirrhosis and other liver diseases, gastrointestinal bleeding, hypertension, irregular heartbeats, osteoporosis, and impaired immunity.

Stopping this problem means watching for the warning signs and getting involved. Many of these signs are the same as they are in younger users, but there are some warning signs that are unique to elderly individuals:

* Recurring accidents, injuries or falls

* Unexpected delirium during hospitalization (a sign of withdrawal)

* Withdrawal from family

* Not adhering to medical treatments and appointments

* Unstable or poorly controlled hypertension

* Gastrointestinal problems

If you notice any of these signs, seek the opinion of a professional and choose a drug rehab that has experience working with the elderly. These facilities can meet the elderly person’s specific needs and create a program that they can physically and mentally handle.

Drug Treatment for the Elderly: Having the Conversation

Telling someone they need to seek drug treatment is a difficult conversation to have, no matter what age they are. But telling an elderly person that he or she needs to go to drug rehab can be even more uncomfortable. Here are some tips for having a conversation with an elderly person about his or her substance abuse problem:

* Talk to a medical professional before you have the conversation to make sure they’re physically able to handle drug treatment.

* Talk to the person when he or she is sober.

* Avoid criticizing or saying negative comments about the person’s choices and condition.

* Focus on how much you value the person and remind them of the good times you’ve shared and how you’ve always been there for each other.

* Plan ahead what you want to say and have a specific, straightforward discussion using ìIî instead of accusatory ‘you’ statements.

* Stay away from the labels ‘alcoholic’ or ‘drug addict,’ which can cause the person to lash back with denial and anger.

If you know an older person is suffering from alcohol or prescription drug abuse, it’s important that you encourage treatment. Drug treatment is very effective among elderly individuals and can help them live a longer and healthier life.

At Casa Palmera, we provide a safe environment for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Our holistic method of treatment addresses the individual’s entire health, including their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Our trained, highly skilled staff is familiar with the special circumstances surrounding the treatment of the elderly and will take wonderful care of your beloved family member.

Call Casa Palmera today and ask how our program can help your loved one live a life of health and happiness.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.