Getting off of drugs isn’t easy for anybody. Taking drugs creates new biological changes in your body that the body was not designed to undergo. Our brains, for example, show remarkable weaknesses to the “feel-good” properties of both drugs that occur in nature and those that are being specifically created for people by chemists. Drug addiction can exert a terrible pull over the way you think and act even when you’re young, strong and perfectly healthy, so you can imagine how hard it must be to try to get off of drugs when you’re older and not at your peak any longer.
Drug abuse and drug rehabilitation among seniors is thus a very important topic. Our older generations deserve our help and support, and this is just one area where they need our help now more than ever.
Why Seniors Can Get Addicted
The cause of first abusing drugs is different for every person, but there are some common reasons that senior citizens are starting to use drugs more and more often. One is that many illegal drugs are now widely available in America, and senior citizens often have the time and money to try them. Now that many of this age group are retired, they are looking for ways to while away the days, and this means turning to drug use for far too many.
Another reason is that senior citizens have easy access to some of the most powerful drugs available on the market today—prescription painkillers. These painkillers are very similar in structure to heroin, opium and other powerful narcotics. When one of these drugs is prescribed to take away the pain of a broken hip or another major operation, the senior citizen can accidentally take too many or intentionally take too many in order to feel a more powerful buzz. This is the start of drug addiction for many seniors.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 231,000 people over the age of 50 sough treatment for drug abuse in 1998. This is over double the figure from 1992. Also, this was the number of seniors seeking treatment. It does not take into account the numbers of seniors that might desperately need help but are not up to the point yet of being able to ask for it.
Getting Effective Drug & Alcohol Treatment for Seniors
In order for a drug rehab center to work, its students must feel comfortable talking about their problems their and working on their addictions. For this reason, there are all-male rehabs, all-female rehabs, and many other variations as well. One variation you do not see very often, however, are rehab centers dedicated to senior citizens.
This might be simple ignorance, as rehab centers might simply not realize that there could be a demand for a program that specializes in this matter. The truth is, though, that the number of older drug addicts is going up. These addicts need specialized care just like everyone else in order to get through this dark point in their lives.
What Could a Senior Expect in Drug Rehab
Drug rehab for seniors would be very similar to normal rehab in many respects. The addict still needs to go through withdrawal and detoxify his body of all the drug residues left over. He can then start the other phases of any drug rehab plan, such as repairing life skills. The main concern for having an older addict in drug rehab would simply be that he or she might be more susceptible to getting sick or injured if they don’t take it easy and follow instructions closely.