Substance abuse is a common problem among the elderly population, but this problem is often overlooked. No one wants to think that the sweet little old lady or the doting grandfather is has a problem with prescription drug abuse or even alcohol, but the fact is that the elderly population faces high risks of substance abuse. Many elderly individuals have medical conditions that require prescription medications, and drug or alcohol abuse can interfere with these medications and treatment for the medical conditions that are presented. Elderly individuals may also have a slower rate of elimination, meaning that alcohol or drugs may take longer to leave the body and can build up to dangerous levels faster than what occurs in younger populations.
Identifying substance abuse in the elderly can be complicated by the aging process and any prescription medications that the person takes. If you suspect that a loved one who is elderly has a substance abuse issue then this needs to be addressed with their family physician so that an appropriate substance abuse treatment plan can be developed. Without treatment this problem will only get worse, and it can pose physical and mental health problems. The right substance abuse treatment program will include a customized treatment plan based on the needs of the elderly individual and it will look at all of the factors involved in the specific situation and circumstances. There is no one size fits all program that will be the best choice in every situation, but there are programs that can address elderly substance abuse effectively.