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With many seniors living without appropriate support networks or the ability to engage in healthy activities, they are at high risk for developing and continuing addictive behaviors. Doctors tend to under-diagnose addiction in their elderly patients when addictions are often even more dangerous than in a younger patient.
While there are many complicated factors that may contribute to addiction, some of those most common issues and events seen in cases of elderly addiction include:
While addiction is dangerous even in younger years, the aging body has more difficulty metabolizing alcohol and drugs. Whether or not addiction is an issue, medications such as Benzodiazepines are dangerous for seniors. Unfortunately, they are also overprescribed and addictive and the rate of seniors addicted to Benzodiazepines continues to rise. Many seniors are unknowledgeable about how to safely manage their prescription medications, resulting in higher risk of addiction and other adverse effects.
Given the high rate of physical and mental symptoms seen in elderly patients, it is understandable that doctors often miss signs of addiction. To prevent mislabeling addiction-related issues as “old age”, watch for the following symptoms that may be related to drugs or alcohol: memory impairment, insomnia or sleeping too much, irritability or depression, unexplained bruises or wounds, weight fluctuations, spending abnormal amounts of time alone, failure to maintain appropriate hygiene, lack of interest in previous hobbies, and pulling away from social groups.
When seeking treatment, look for specialists with experience dealing with the elderly population. Many seniors lack the social support necessary to remain successful in treatment, and a program with relevant professionals including medical and social resources is necessary for lifelong success. If you or a senior you love is suffering from addiction, please call now for assistance.
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