Is Anyone Too Old for Treatment?


There is a common misconception that once a person reaches a certain age, addiction is not a problem. We have a tendency to think that they will be free of the consequences that younger people struggling with addiction face. Perhaps they have achieved financial security or are retired, and we feel as though they have “earned” the right to be left alone with their drugs and alcohol. Addiction does not discriminate by age, however, and can be just as devastating to an elderly person as a younger person. All people, regardless of age, gender, race, or any other factor, deserve to have the highest possible quality of life and will benefit greatly from treatment.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous presents the story of a businessman who “made up his mind that until he had been successful in business and had retired, he would not touch another drop.” The man had a successful career and retired at the age of fifty-five, then “he fell victim to a belief which practically every alcoholic has—that his long period of sobriety and self-discipline qualified him to drink as other men.” The man quickly fell victim to his alcoholism. He was hospitalized within two months but still was unable to stop drinking: “Every attempt failed. Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly and was dead within four years.” The story illustrates that addiction and alcoholism are progressive and fatal diseases. The accomplishments of the past are not enough to qualify an individual to begin indulging in drugs or alcohol, no matter how much time has passed. Addiction and alcoholism cause untold suffering at any age.

Advanced age may even be a risk factor for addiction. There are 2.5 million older adults with alcohol or drug problems, with widowers over the age of 75 having the highest rates of alcoholism in the United States. Access to prescription medication, changes in health, loss of mobility, and loneliness are all contributing factors that can cause older adults to become addicted to substances. Sadly, “There is an unspoken but pervasive assumption that it’s not worth treating older adults for substance use disorders. Behavior considered a problem in younger adults does not inspire the same urgency for care among older adults. Along with the impression that alcohol or substance abuse problems cannot be successfully treated in older adults, there is the assumption that treatment for this population is a waste of health care resources,” according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Older adults struggling with addiction should be encouraged to seek help. They deserve the greatest possible quality of life and treatment is the best way to achieve a happy, joyous, and free life at any age.

You deserve the best possible life. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin the journey to happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. The Lakehouse Recovery Center utilizes holistic modalities that, by treating the mind, body, and spirit, create the support systems needed to combat drug addiction and promote long-term recovery. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 762-3707


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