24/7 Support Line - Call Now
Free Insurance Verification
Verify your treatment coverage

Senior Drug Addiction Treatment

You might wonder what would cause a senior citizen to turn to drugs late in life. The reasons are numerous and varied. Losing a life-long mate, failing health, retirement, financial problems, loneliness, and having to sell his or her home are some of the stresses seniors face. In recent years, the need for senior drug addiction treatment has dramatically increased.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 26 2023 | Updated Mar 11 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Norman Chazin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Norman Chazin
Reviewed by

Understanding the Need For Senior Drug Addiction Treatment

Senior Drug Addiction Treatment

Depression is a serious concern for seniors facing major changes in their lives. When a spouse dies, the emotions can be overwhelming. There may be no, or little, life insurance to pay off debts. When bill collectors harass seniors, it can be brutal and demeaning. The surviving spouse may seek help from his or her doctor and be prescribed tranquilizers for help to cope with facing so many challenges.

Age can be a mitigating factor in drug addiction due to insecurity, memory loss, and emerging health problems. Senior drug addiction treatment is vitally important due to the accompanying risks seniors face when they abuse medications, legal or illegal. Additional risks many seniors face include depression, isolation, onset of senility, poor nutrition, illness associated with age, and serious disease.

Any one of these risk factors can result in drug addiction for a senior citizen. If they have no energy, are unable to drive, experience physical difficulty walking or exercise, and are isolated in their home, it is much easier to take a drug to forget and sleep. Mixing pain pills, tranquilizers, and over-the-counter drugs is not uncommon, and can lead to overdose and death.

Senior Citizen Drug Addiction

Adults over 65 account for nearly 30% of all prescription medications. Seniors are at an increased risk for prescription drug abuse and addiction. There is the added complication of mixing prescribed drugs with over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements that can lead to senior citizen drug addiction. Aging also complicates the body’s ability to process medicines and increases the potential for drug interactions. Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers often overlook the symptoms of drug dependency and addiction in seniors due to the similarity they have to some medical issues such as diabetes, depression, and dementia.

Unfortunately, many older patients are not screened because of poor training or because some doctors don’t feel treating senior citizen drug addiction in an advanced age group is important. On some occasions, family members are reluctant to seek help because they are ashamed and choose to hide the wrongdoings of Grandma and Grandpa. Family may rationalize that they are old and this is the only pleasure remaining.

Elderly Drug Addiction

Many of the symptoms of drug addiction in seniors may be mistaken as part of natural aging or as symptoms of dementia. Some symptoms to watch for include the following:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and social activities
  • Frequent use of tranquilizers
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Constant health or pain complaints

Drug abuse is dangerous for anyone, but it is most harmful for senior citizens. The impact of elderly drug addiction is more severe due to a higher risk of medication interactions and the greater risk of injury when under the influence of drugs. Every year the number of tranquilizer prescriptions given to senior citizens is nearly 17 million. The most commonly abused tranquilizer prescribed to the elderly is benzodiazepine.

Better Addiction Care is a free referral service that can help locate a drug treatment facility that has the experience and compassion required to work with addicted seniors. Call Better Addiction Care at (800) 429-7690 and speak to a drug rehab specialist to get help for your loved one.


bullet U.S. News
"Silent Epidemic: Seniors and Addiction"
Retrieved on February 28, 2018
bullet Prevention Tactics
"The Elderly and Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse"
Retrieved on February 28, 2018
bullet Our Parents
"Tips for Avoiding Incidental Drug Abuse in Seniors"
Retrieved on February 28, 2018
bullet Recovered
"Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Seniors"
Retrieved on February 28, 2018

Related Articles

All Male Drug Rehab Treatment Programs Updated: Mar 01 2024 All male drug rehab treatment programs narrow the focus of rehab to allow a more personalized and precise individualized approach to drug rehabilitation. While every...
Coed Drug Rehab Pros and Cons Updated: Mar 11 2024 One of the choices you face when entering treatment for drug addiction is whether you will stay at a co-ed drug rehab center or a gender specific...
Common Concerns About Drug Rehab Updated: Mar 11 2024 Making the decision to get professional help for addiction at a rehab center is certainly a life-change decision. It can also be a daunting one...

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

Pixel Pixel