According to Rehabs.com, addiction among the over-60 is one the nation’s fastest growing health problems. There are several reasons why this problem’s growing so quickly. First of all, as is now commonly known, people are living longer. The retired Baby Boomer population’s growing at a staggering rate. As people become older, they can become bored or lonely in retirement, or they can suffer from chronic pain, or they experience losses as friends and family die.
Most elderly people aren’t using drugs to get high and party necessarily, but they might misuse drugs for the above reasons –then a certain percentage of these older drug users become addicted. There are more drugs now than ever to deal with practically every human problem imaginable, and many of these drugs are potentially addictive.
There’s also an increase in alcohol abuse. Maybe a person had a career that prevented her from drinking as much as she would’ve liked, but now in retirement she can drink like she wants to drink, thus developing a problem. It could be in many cases that alcoholism progressed slowly and now in a longer life the late stage of alcoholism is more prominent.
Unfortunately, drug addiction among the elderly is often overlooked. As I’ve written here before, health care providers often don’t know what to look for when it comes to drug addiction — they’re busy dealing with the symptoms of drug addiction. Family members are sometimes dependent on the person who has the drug addiction, and they don’t want to create problems. Many times it’s overlooked in families because of the stigma still attached to addiction. It’s embarrassing socially, although it should be treated like any other health concern.
This is also from Rehabs.com:
A study in the Annals of Epidemiology projects that the number of people age 50 and older abusing prescription drugs could increase 190 percent over the next two decades, going from 911,000 in 2001 to almost 2.7 million by the year 2020.
I predict that age-specific treatment facilities will emerge in the next decade. Our seniors deserve better. Drug addiction among the over-60 is a serious problem that requires specialized treatment.