A lot of people might think that the typical person who abuses alcohol is a college student who parties heavily at weekend parties or a business executive who entertains clients at booze-filled lunches or has several drinks while flying to distant meetings.
While some college students and business executives do struggle with substance abuse, there are also other groups of people who abuse alcohol and drugs. Some of those groups may surprise you.
One of these groups include senior citizens. It might sound surprising to imagine Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa as alcoholics, but that’s the case for a large number of people over the age of sixty.
If you think about it, it makes sense that growing numbers of senior citizens are seeking treatment for alcohol or drug problems. Today’s senior citizens may
- Have experimented with drugs and alcohol in the past.
- Be still using alcohol or drugs heavily.
- Have time and money they can spend on alcohol and drugs.
- Be experiencing stressful life changes (ailing parents, the deaths of spouses, health changes, retirement) and using alcohol and drugs to cope.
While alcohol or drug abuse at any age can create problems, it can be especially dangerous for senior citizens. That’s because older adults
- Might be taking medications that could create dangerous interactions with alcohol or drugs.
- Could be more frail, so if they become drunk and fall, they could injure themselves.
- Become drunk or high faster using lower amounts of alcohol or drugs, because older adults process alcohol differently.
- May experience symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse that may resemble other signs of aging, such as confusion and poor physical health.
But there’s treatment for people of any age who abuse alcohol or drugs. Just as there are programs that treat teenagers and young adults, there are also programs focused on assisting older adults who abuse substances. It’s never too late to make a fresh start, no matter what your age.