Substance Abuse – A Growing Problem Among Seniors
We don’t typically think of the elderly when we think of substance abusers, but unfortunately it seems that our senior population are defying stereotypes and falling prey to addictions at a growing rate. A combination of loneliness, boredom, prescription drugs, and societal blindness to the issue is having a sometimes deadly effect.
The most common types of addiction in the elderly are alcoholism and prescription drug abuse. Both often begin fairly innocently – with an extra glass of wine at night to take the edge off spending an evening alone, for example, or popping one more painkiller because your back is playing up more than usual. However, it’s a slippery slope.
Many seniors live alone, and chronic loneliness leads to depression more often than it does not. Loneliness, depression, and alcohol frequently come together to form a deadly triangle of addiction – but the havoc these ageing addicts are wreaking upon their bodies is often not discovered until after death. Carers and home visitors may be able to assuage or even prevent a burgeoning addiction by not only providing company but by taking note of any suffering (emotional and/or physical) and doing what they can to ease it.
Prescription medication addiction is a major problem in the USA. Seniors are frequently prescribed addictive medications for age-related illnesses, so are more vulnerable than most to such addictions. Addiction to prescription opioids or benzodiazepanes is just as devastating and deadly as addiction to heroin or cocaine. A home carer can prevent this kind of addiction from occurring by keeping a close eye on all medical conditions, and ensuring that the right amount of medication is taken at the right time. This is a serious and growing issue, but it can be prevented with the right kind of care. Author – Mel Hollings.