Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

They may be taking these substances in the same doses or amounts they always did without realizing they now face a higher risk. That is why objective information about the dangers of alcohol or prescription drug use can be helpful. Moreover, they can unknowingly become addicted to these medications, making it another cause of substance abuse in the elderly. In addition, many older adults have binge drinking issues (five or more standard drinks in one sitting). Almost 20% of men and just over 6% of women in this age group are binge drinkers.

  • An older adult may respond to therapy differently than research may suggest, as the existing research may not account for their experiences.
  • Many behavioral therapies and medications have been successful in treating substance use disorders in older adults.
  • The use of benzodiazepines, the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs, ranged from 15.2% to 32.0% in persons over 65 that year.

We may be paid a fee for marketing or advertising by organizations that can assist with treating people with substance use disorders. The DSM criterion related to continued use of the substance despite recurrent or persistent problems may not apply to many seniors who do not realize that these problems, such as depression, are related to alcohol use or misuse of prescription drugs. Research by Blazer and Wu carried out for the National Institutes of Health found that 2.9 million adults over 50 years of age used opioids non-medically in 2012. The use of benzodiazepines, the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs, ranged from 15.2% to 32.0% in persons over 65 that year. Rates of benzodiazepine use are shown to be impacted by misdiagnosis, over-prescription, and misdosing.

Service Utilization

For instance, because older adults metabolize drugs more slowly than young people, those who undergo medical detox may need to remain in this treatment phase longer than other participants. Older adults, as well as family members and caregivers, can take steps to prevent accidental drug misuse. Factors such as physical pain, discrimination, and inaccessibility can trigger alcohol and drug use. As a result, loved ones may miss the signs of substance use in their older adult loved ones, which may delay or prevent these older adults from receiving care. One of the most common forms of MAT is opioid replacement therapy, in which a doctor prescribes a long-acting opioid medication to replace the drug that the person currently uses. During medical detox, a person receives doctor supervision and care as their body adjusts to the absence of substances.

what is the best treatment for substance abuse for older adults

It is important to remember that not all people will respond to medications, but for a subset of individuals, they can be an important tool in overcoming alcohol dependence. If you’re worried about an older loved one’s use of alcohol or drugs, talk to them about it. If that doesn’t work, consider asking their doctor, minister, or a longtime friend to approach them instead.

Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders

Addiction creates physical and mental health consequences for people of all age groups. Though more research is needed on drug metabolism and substance misuse, the longer half-life of substances may alter the impact of drugs on older bodies. The exact link between these issues remains unclear, but many researchers believe that people with mood disorders often use substances as a form of self-medication.

  • However, the following types of substance abuse care may meet the unique needs of this demographic.
  • Developing and implementing evidence-based approaches to social determinants of health will be key to improving the health of older adults and decreasing the risk of SUDs.
  • There is also evidence that many people continue to use both delivery systems to inhale nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug.
  • The twelve-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and drug use disorder (DUD) (the NSDUH does not publish disaggregated information on specific drugs for adults ages 65 and older), were 1.6 percent and .4 percent, respectively.
  • Collaborative models of care can achieve this goal either in-person or with the use of digital technologies (Ramuji et al., 2019).
  • Taking a history is also an opportunity to offer prevention messages and encouragement to individuals maintaining abstinence or very low use.

The study found that 21.5 percent of patients drank moderately, 4.1 percent engaged in at-risk drinking, and 4.5 percent drank heavily or engaged in binge drinking. Among those who drank moderately, 10.2 percent had engaged in heavy episodic drinking one to three times in the past 3 months. Our writers and reviewers are experienced professionals in medicine, addiction treatment, and healthcare. AddictionResource fact-checks all the information before publishing and uses only credible and trusted sources when citing any medical data. The Verified badge on our articles is a trusted sign of the most comprehensive scientifically-based medical content. If you have any concern that our content is inaccurate or it should be updated, please let our team know at [email protected].

Addiction Treatment Options For Older Adults

This updated TIP includes the latest evidence on motivation-enhancing approaches and strategies. It describes how substance use disorder treatment providers can use these approaches and strategies to increase participation and retention in substance use disorder treatment. Once substance misuse becomes apparent, hope for recovery should always follow. what is the best treatment for substance abuse for older adults A wide range of professionals and providers across a variety of settings share the responsibility to help older clients achieve recovery. According to a 2016 analysis of national survey data,98 about 38 percent of older adults take at least one OTC medication; more than 63 percent take a dietary supplement (e.g., herbal products, vitamins).

The good news is that it is highly treatable – and that is where addiction counselors come in. Hand-in-hand with prescription drug misuse is the prevalence of chronic pain in aging populations. Chronic pain is a common issue among senior citizens and can seriously impact their overall quality of life. It is possible to have a mild substance use disorder where you might still be able to control it on your own with family support or counseling. Other times it can be more severe and require professional help such as inpatient treatment or medication to recover.

Treatment, Prevention & Recovery

They offer a safe and comfortable space to talk freely and openly about one’s experiences. They can provide an opportunity for older adults to connect with peers who have gone through similar struggles, providing a forum to share advice and strategies that have proven successful in managing their addiction. Substance use disorders are characterized by intense, uncontrollable cravings for drugs and compulsive drug-seeking behaviors – even in the face of devastating consequences. Substance use can result in psychological and physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. This type of disorder is particularly concerning when it affects seniors, as they can be especially vulnerable to the consequences of drug addiction. When research only includes people with similar backgrounds, the findings may not apply to or benefit a broader population.



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