Too Old to Get Sober? Don’t Believe It
There’s an old saying that you’re only as old as you feel. But that’s just telling half of the story. When it comes to those of us of a “certain age,” whatever that age may be, who have been comfortably ensconced in our particular drug of choice for many a year, it may often mean that we believe we are too old to get sober.
Research studies, however, show the negative assessment to be largely a result of conditioning. In other words, if we think something bad about our prospects, especially about our ability to get clean and sober and stay that way, and we’re older adults, guess what? Our belief tends to become reality.
On the other hand, as psychologists and behavioral health professionals readily agree, if we adopt more positive attitudes toward ourselves and our capabilities, it doesn’t matter how old we are. We can still find peace and happiness in a life of sobriety, and we won’t cut ourselves off from the chance to realize this new lifestyle.
So, how can we go from being mired in depressing and totally brutal self-assessment of our addictive behavior to coming to the realization that there is, indeed, hope for us? All you need to know is if you really want to get sober, you can do it. There are some tough times ahead, to be sure, but with the right kind of treatment and support, you can definitely get there.
First, however, let’s look at why we con ourselves into believing that we’re simply too old to get sober.
Physical Maladies Cause Us Pain
There’s no question that if we’re in pain, we aren’t feeling on top of our game. Every little movement can seem like torture, especially if we’re afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, some form of cancer or other progressively debilitating disease.
Having to go through round after round of various types of medical tests and treatments does nothing to alleviate this feeling of being constantly in pain. Likely as not, many of us in such circumstances turn to overmedicating just to get by. This may be in the form of taking pain relieving medications that are highly or somewhat addictive, or combining pills with alcohol or other illicit drugs.
We may, in fact, get so strung out on toxic cocktails that we don’t even have a good grasp on what caused us to start using in the first place. Indeed, any medical treatment that we initially started for a legitimate physical condition, may be negated or made worse by the addition of our drug of choice.
And we’re no better off for it psychologically, either.
The older we get, the more our physical ailments may increase, both in number and severity. If all we do is think about how much pain we’re in and have a big red number in our heads as to our old age, we’re not likely to be motivated to do much about getting sober. That bottle is just too much of a habit to discard anytime soon.
But this line of thinking is self-destructive and not at all conducive to living in any sort of sustained happiness in our golden years.
There are Few of Us Left to Socialize With
The older we get, the more likely we are to fall into the trap of reading the obituaries. How many of our parents used to do that when we were kids and we thought it morbid and stupid? The fact is that when we reach a certain age, it’s human nature to be both curious about the longevity of others and to compare our own state of health with those who have recently died.
But that doesn’t mean that because several of our friends have died that we’re about to as well. There are always myriad reasons why this or that person succumbs to a disease or dies from some other trauma. It isn’t just old age that is responsible, at least, not for most of us.
Looking around at your sphere of friends and finding that too many of them have already died off can be a bit depressing. It may make you want to pick up the bottle and drown your misery. If that’s the case, what’s very likely to happen is that you find any excuse to continue to do so.
Being in a morbid state of mind, thinking about death and dying and being alone, you’re far more likely to dismiss the idea of getting sober as something that’s way past being suitable for you. This is a huge mistake, but it is one that you can rectify. We’ll discuss more about how to do that later.
It’s Too Hard to Learn Something New
How often have we told ourselves that we’re too old to learn something new? Actually, this isn’t an excuse that’s unique to older individuals, since a person of any age can and often does come up with it.
In reality, people can learn new things into their advanced years – far older than you may be right now. It doesn’t matter, then, if you’re 60 or 100 years old. You can still learn new things and find enjoyment in life in the pursuit of healthy goals and activities.
This includes learning how to stay sober – after you first go through treatment and get sober. And, no, you’re not too old to consider doing this or to be successful in your endeavor.
Life is Unfair
When we reach a certain age, we find ourselves falling in line with the idea that somehow, life is treating us unfairly. We may even start looking at the successes of others with an equal share of envy and bitterness. Why him and not me? What’s wrong with me that I can’t have my portion of happiness? I surely deserve it as much as the next person, don’t I?
This line of thinking is a dead-end trap. Again, it doesn’t matter what chronological age you are, since individuals of any age can find themselves thinking this way. But what is absolutely true in all cases is that if you start looking at life as unfair and envy what others have, you’re not only never going to be happy, you’ll be sabotaging your efforts to find any joy whatsoever.
Maybe it’s true that you’ve been dealt a rough situation. But remember this: Each person needs to learn how to deal with what is, not what someone else has. You can’t live another person’s life, but you certainly can live your own life. It’s totally your choice, but too many of us forget that, especially when we’ve accommodated our lives to blurring the lines of distinction with one substance or another.
It Won’t Work – I Can’t Get Sober
Maybe what’s really going on here when we tell ourselves that we’re too old to get sober is a set-up for failure. We really don’t want to get sober in the first place, so we convince ourselves that any attempt to get clean will end in failure.
We may even delude ourselves into believing that we’re physically and psychologically incapable of sobriety. If that’s the case, we’re like the millions of Americans who are in desperate need of treatment but refuse to get it. Why bother, they tell themselves, since it won’t work anyway?
Let’s be clear about what rehab can and cannot offer. It is a chance for you to get clean and sober and learn how to manage the disease of addiction. There are no iron-clad guarantees. Whether it works the first time or whether you need to go through repeated rehab in order for treatment to “take,” really depends on so many factors that it’s pointless to worry about them.
What is absolutely true, and has proven true for countless individuals in effective recovery, is that you can get sober – but you do need to commit to the process and do the hard work to get and stay there.
Treatment is Too Expensive – And I’m On a Fixed Income
Treatment is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also affordable. There are ways and means to obtain treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction that won’t put you in the poorhouse. You will need to do some research, however. There’s no free lunch here. If you are serious about getting sober – once you finally recognize that there’s no such thing as being too old to get sober – you will do your homework and ask for help.
Life Won’t Get Any Better – There’s Not Much Left of It
Maybe you’ve got a fear of death. Perhaps that’s why you continue to drown your sorrows in your drug of choice. You could have the mistaken impression that your life couldn’t possibly get any better if you get sober. You could also harbor the belief that you don’t have that much time left, so you might as well continue on the way you have been living.
What a line of hooey this is. Remember the part where we discussed how thinking negative thoughts will pretty much perpetuate a negative outlook? In other words, if you really believe that life will never get any better and you’re already close to the grave, you’re probably hastening your own demise.
Maybe that’s what you have in the back of your mind, anyway. It could be out of guilt, being a survivor after your spouse or loved one has died. It could be that you’ve never put much of any effort into pursuing goals, let alone achieving them. Or, it could be that your goals have not been achieved despite your valiant efforts to realize them. Any one of these reasons could put you into the frame of mind that life isn’t worth living – and it’s getting desperately short.
How is it that artists can paint well into their hundreds? Or writers continue to produce works despite advancing age, physical infirmities, history of tragedy and trauma? For every person who believes life is virtually over due to his or her current age and circumstance, there are dozens more who believe just the opposite.
Life is precious, for sure. We should cherish each and every moment of it and not waste any time living either in the past or consumed with negative thoughts about our future prospects.
Getting sober – no matter how old we are – should be something that we strongly consider.
No One Cares If I’m Sober or Not
Feeling like a crotchety old man or woman that no one cares about? You can easily talk yourself into such a mind-set, but that doesn’t make it so. And it’s definitely not a given. Sure, maybe you don’t have a wide circle of friends. Maybe all your friends are gone, for one reason or another.
Make some new friends. Get out of the house and stop bemoaning your dire circumstances and lack of social companionship.
If you stick with your bottle or other drug of choice and continue to give yourself permission to do so, you’ll wind up facing the sunset of your life alone and miserable.
It doesn’t have to be so. There are people that you can meet who will share experiences with you, who will begin to care about you and count you as a friend, if not something more. There is always time to make a new acquaintance. You can do so almost anywhere you go. Attitude is what counts here. And you can learn to change your attitude from one of a dour and miserable outlook to one that looks forward with hope and enthusiasm.
And key to doing this is to get off your couch and get serious about getting sober. Ready for a change? Read How to Get Started With Getting Sober