There has been much research carried out in the UK over recent years examining the growing number of older people experiencing issues with addiction. The majority of indicators would suggest that whilst drug use may be decreasing in younger people, it is certainly on the rise amongst older people largely due to the ageing of the baby boomer generation who grew up in relatively high levels of both drug use and medication misuse. Drug use and addiction to medicines which are often prescribed can have very serious consequences for older people resulting in both physical and mental health issues as well as premature death. The main reasons for the severity of consequences is that drugs can often exacerbate a variety of conditions usually associated with getting older. Sometimes, as a result of using drugs for many years, it may often be that they are already in poorer health or their ‘habit’ is very difficult to break, while others may not start until later life after children have grown up or as a result of a stressful life situation. It also seems to be coming more common that older people are inadvertently becoming addicted to prescribed medication.
In many cases, anxiety and depression plays a role in the addiction as well as other stressors including financial worries and a difficult transition into retirement. Very often people find themselves without a sense of purpose and independent children. This coupled with more free time and lower levels of responsibility can increase the risk of developing an addiction.
Very often older people may be resistant in either seeking rehab or asking for help. Generationally, asking for help may be seen as a weakness and addiction is something that you should be able to beat on your own. We often find that it is the children of the addicted person who are encouraging their parents to accept the help. The great news is that the success rates in drug rehab for older people are very good mainly due to positive life experiences and the ability to be disciplined about their recovery.