Posted on April 4, 2017
Substance abuse problems have a terrible impact not only on the person, but to people around him as well. That said, substance abuse is often an unrecognized problem—let alone a priority one—for older adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, the number of U.S. adults in the 50-and-above age bracket in need of substance abuse treatment will double from 2.8 million to 5.7 million by the year 2020.
Drinking is still the most popular form of substance abuse among older people, however prescription drugs are starting to be a close second. As the baby boomers continue to age, the use of prescription drugs in this age bracket have also begun to rise.
Addiction is not a condition that commonly comes to mind when it comes to maladies that afflict the elderly, but it probably should be. There are many reasons why substance abuse is often misidentified and mistreated in older people. To begin with, clinical trials generally exclude older individuals, so recognizing the signs of substance abuse in this bracket of relies on observations done on their younger counterparts.
In addition, social stereotypes help promote the belief that older adults are simply ‘too old’ to suffer from substance abuse. Thus, when healthcare professionals screen older adults for alcohol and nicotine, they often neglect to screen for other substances.
According to an article in Psychology Today, the byproduct of substance abuse in older people is the corresponding social issue of elder abuse. The article goes on to state that there are nearly 6 million cases of elderly abuse every year, with very few getting reported.
Substance abuse is the most common risk factor associated with elder abuse. It is believed to be a factor in all types of elder abuse including neglect, financial exploitation, emotional abuse, and even physical mistreatment.
If you know an elder person who is suffering from substance or any other types of abuse, refer them to a Royal Oak, MI psychologist. If you are such a person yourself, don’t be afraid to approach a psychologist to discuss your problems. Opening up to a psychologist can help you discover solutions to your substance abuse that you may never have thought possible.
Royal Oak residents seeking help for substance abuse and other related problems know that they can trust a Royal Oak psychologist such as Robert J. Flewelling.
Illicit and Nonmedical Drug Use Among Older Adults: A Review, NIH.gov
When Will We Ever Learn? Addictions and Elder Abuse; the Coming Pandemic, PsychologyToday.com
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