For some, the golden years are anything but golden. In fact, they can be a time when many adults turn to substance abuse to deal with issues of anxiety and depression. Growing older and all the changes that come with it are not always pleasant, and without proper coping mechanisms, can lead to a higher risk for the abuse of alcohol or drugs.
The elderly deal with a range of issues that many of their younger counterparts have not yet had to experience. A number have lost their life partners and have struggled with intense loneliness. Others lack a sense of purpose upon retirement. Physical aches and pains and living on limited financial resources can also be a source of tremendous stress.
An article at Psych Central pointed out that in the five year period from 2002 to 2007, figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that the number of elderly adults engaging in illegal substance abuse has doubled. Experts are concerned about these increases as well as upsurges in the abuse of prescription drugs, which increased by nearly two percent from 2002 to 2009.
A survey originating from the Hanley Center, a rehab facility in Florida, revealed that close to 50 percent of respondents misused prescription medications and many others admitted to abusing drugs or alcohol. Dr. Barbara Krantz, the Hanley Center’s medical director, says that a number of factors come together at the same time, which pave the road for addiction.
According to the survey, 40 percent of participants said their dependency ensued as they approached the age of 50. Over 90 percent revealed that they had abused alcohol while nearly half reported misappropriation of prescription drugs.
The survey also showed that people often make the decision to get help based on the urgings of family. Because most substance abuse efforts target those who are young, many in the older generation tend to fall through the cracks. Family Guidance Center can help individuals and their families identify symptoms of underlying mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that may also coexist with substance abuse problems. For more information about services to help lead you out of dependency, including Addiction Treatment services, contact the Family Guidance Center.