Senior Citizens Abusing Substances – A Bigger Problem than Assumed

Senior citizens are easily the largest customer base for the pharmaceutical company as these individuals rely on critical medications to keep their health in check. While this reliance on medication can lead to other problems, what tends to avoid the spotlight is the fact that substance abuse among this age group is a growing problem. This report in The Daily Times highlighted that an older individual may be struggling with an addiction to one of the medications meant to regulate their health. At the same time, the older individual may be succumbing to loneliness or mental health issues. If the latter occurs and he or she also has pre-existing alcohol or drug habits, the resulting substance abuse problems can mean the difference between life and death. Dr. Daniel Callan, a family medicine physician at Blount Memorial Business Health noted that substance abuse doesn’t have age boundaries. It doesn’t matter if the individual is 20 or 80 years old, they may turn to drinking or taking drugs as a way to deal with stress, grief, depression, anxiety or pain. This approach to substance use can easily lead to an addiction problem that can be life-threatening. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has recently released research that shows 20-30 percent of people aged 70-85 have experienced drinking problems. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, illicit drug use has been reported among 2 percent of older adults living in retirement communities. The biggest problem among the older generation is the sheer volume of medications they consume, coupled with alcoholic beverages and over the counter medications. Abuse is not easy to spot and the individual may or may not be aware that their actions are life threatening.

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