For many of us, we don’t typically think about grandma or grandpa when we think about drug abuse or addiction. But, the truth is, substance abuse is increasing significantly among our older population—especially as the baby boomer generation enters the senior facet of our society.
It is predicted that by the year 2020, the number of people needing treatment for drug abuse and/or addiction will double among those aged 50 or older. And, this isn’t just about illegal substance abuse. Prescription drug abuse is also prevalent. That’s easier to imagine when you realize that people 65 or older make up 13% of our population, but they account for nearly 30% of all medications prescribed in our country. Put another way, it is anticipated that the number of older adults abusing prescription medications could increase to nearly 3 million people in less than 10 years.
Of course, we don’t encourage people to look for things to worry about, but these statistics do tell us that we should be aware of the potential for drug abuse among our elderly loved ones and be able to recognize the signs. After all, that’s the first step to helping them.
So, what are the signs?
Before we talk about possible signs of addiction there are two things you should always keep in mind:
Here is a list of general signs of addiction:
Again, many of these can often be signs of other illnesses too, so take note of them and:
What are the specific signs of drug abuse or addiction?
If you observe the general signs of addiction, there are some very specific signs that would help confirm an addiction. These are signs that are less likely to be viewed in association with normal aging processes or other illnesses:
Hopefully, this will help you become more aware of signs of addiction in your elderly loved one. If you do observe these signs, take the time to talk to professionals about what you are seeing and they can help you make an informed decision about what to do next. We’ll talk more about that in our next post!