Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in Older Adults
Although many people believe alcohol abuse and addiction are problems of a younger generation, these dangerous health problems can affect people of all ages. Alcohol addiction in elderly and older Americans is too often overlooked as a lifetime habit that cannot be changed or mistaken as the symptoms of growing older; however, because older Americans often take prescription medicines and herbal remedies that cause unsafe reactions with alcohol, getting help is essential.
Is Alcohol Rehab Necessary for 55+?
As people grow older, certain symptoms of alcoholism or abuse are mistaken with common signs of aging. When a person abuses alcohol over a long period of time, the brain begins to make several chemical changes. These changes negatively affect memory, judgment, learning and other executive functions. Physical changes, such as those relating to balance, also take place. As the person continues drinking, the psychological effects grow more apparent. These effects can include depression and delusional thinking. Forgetfulness and difficulty thinking clearly may be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Although these symptoms are noticeable in teenagers and younger adults, they often pass unnoticed in older Americans.
Alcohol abuse over 65 causes even more serious problems. Feeling high faster — even though the amount consumed has not increased — is a common effect. This leads to increased risk of accidents, falls and injuries. Alcohol also worsens a host of medical conditions associated with aging, such as osteoporosis, ulcers, high blood pressure and diabetes. Alcohol also changes the heart and circulatory system, which can dull the pain that warns of an impending heart attack.
In addition, many common medications and herbal remedies given to older Americans become deadly when mixed with alcohol. Using a prescription muscle relaxer, cough syrup or painkiller in combination with alcohol can result in overdose. Getting professional help for an older loved one can prevent these serious health problems and more.
How Much Is Too Much?
Older Americans cannot safely consume as much alcohol as their younger family members. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends no more than 7 alcohol drinks per week and no more than 3 alcohol drinks at one time for adults over the age of 65. These guidelines do not apply for those who take certain prescription medicines or who have specific health problems; in many cases, these individuals may not be able to drink alcohol at all. If you aren’t sure whether or not your loved one is allowed to drink, speaking to a physician is necessary.
Identifying and Treating a Drinking Problem
Major life changes negatively affect older adults every day. Failing health, the death of a spouse and moving in to a new home all commonly cause feelings of isolation and depression. Because it is easy to become addicted to the false comfort provided by alcohol, many older adults fall prey to the alcohol abuse and addiction trap. If you notice certain symptoms, getting help is necessary. These symptoms include:
- Drinking more than 3 drinks in one day or 7 drinks in a week
- Lying about drinking, or hiding how much drinking is going on
- Sustaining an injury or causing an accident after drinking
- Injuring someone else after drinking
If these symptoms sound familiar, 12 Keys Rehab can help.
Alcohol Recovery Program for Older Adults
At 12 Keys Rehab, we help people recover from alcoholism with compassionate, experienced care. Our well qualified treatment team provides 24-hour care in a small, family-oriented environment. From helping your loved one detox safely from drinking to uncovering the roots of his addiction, your loved one will begin to live a healthier.
Our individualized program includes behavior therapy that will teach your loved one how to manage cravings, cope with stress and avoid temptation. Daily 12 Step meetings, working with a sponsor and helping others recover from addiction will be part of your loved one’s program. We also know that living life sober is fun — and that is why our clients golf, swim, fish and take strolls around our beautiful and private gardens. After residential care ends, your loved one will continue to participate in our community through ongoing 12 Step care and other aids designed specifically for his lifestyle.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call us now for a free and confidential consultation, and let us help you and your loved one find a path to freedom, starting today.