Baby boomers are retiring. One of the largest and most prosperous generations have been approaching or entering retirement age, and the number of seniors (50+) with substance use disorder (SUD) is expected to reach 5.7 million in 2020. Alcohol, opioid drugs (painkillers), and benzodiazepines are the most commonly used drugs, all of which can present serious difficulties during withdrawal if not managed by medical professionals.
Senior Citizens are likely to face a number of difficulties when dealing with substance use disorder. Declining health, retirement, and increased isolation can converge, creating an environment in which addiction and mental illness can thrive. Additionally, there is a tendency in western medicine to overprescribe medications for senior citizens which also contributes to addiction and substance abuse in this age demographic.
To see exactly how prevalent drug and alcohol use is in the elderly population, let’s take a look at some statistics:
It may not always be easy to tell when someone is experiencing withdrawal from drugs. It’s not uncommon for people who are suffering from substance use disorder to hide their addiction and the symptoms of their withdrawal. Signs of abuse or drug withdrawal for senior citizens could include:
In terms of physical withdrawal symptoms, the type of drug and the extent of the abuse will play a major role in the severity of withdrawal. To some extent, withdrawal symptoms are unavoidable, but they can be managed with support. Medical intervention can mitigate symptoms, and careful observation can help ensure safety in the detoxification process.
Despite the dangers, withdrawal can be treated. When the detox process is overseen by medical professionals the chances of safe detox and lasting recovery dramatically improve. The most commonly used drugs for senior citizens and their withdrawal symptoms are listed here:
Selecting the right detox center is a critical phase in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Detox centers should have the medical staff to properly oversee the detoxification process, which could take up to a week or longer depending on the person. Detox centers will also have psychiatric staff who will monitor and address the mental symptoms of withdrawal. Outside of these critical elements, there are specific things to look for in a senior citizen detox center:
The range and type of service offered will vary from facility to facility. There are 3 basic types of medical detox centers:
Inpatient Detox: Inpatient facilities are “live-in” facilities that will offer 24/7 medical care and observation, as well as psychiatric support and therapy. These detox facilities will offer programs to treat the entire person, all in a residential-style environment. Stays at inpatient facilities will typically last 7-14 days.
Outpatient Detox: Outpatient detox facilities will offer the same high level of care but in an outpatient environment. These facilities are ideal for seniors who have a strong network outside of treatment but still require medical and psychiatric care.
Rapid Detox: Rapid detox is a new detox method that’s effectiveness is still up for debate. There are some unique risks that accompany this type of detox since anesthesia is often required, so it may not be suitable for senior citizens.
You are not alone! There are many resources dedicated to senior citizens available. Just a few of these include:
If you are seeking drug and alcohol related addiction rehab for yourself or a loved one, the sponsored hotline is a confidential and convenient solution.
Calls to any sponsored hotline (non-facility) will be answered by:
If you wish to contact a specific medical detox center then find a specific detox center using our detox locator tool.
Alternatives to finding addiction treatment or learning about substance abuse:
To learn more about how Detox Local operates, please contact us.