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Survey Gives Insight Into Substance Abuse Among Older Adults

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
some-older-adults-abuse-pills-and-alcohol iStockphoto/Thinkstock

A spotlight has been put on older adults misusing drugs and alcohol, and a new survey sheds some light on this growing issue in the United States.

Results from a survey conducted by the Hanley Center, a drug and alcohol treatment and recovery center, suggest depression and anxiety are the main reasons for older adults abusing drugs and alcohol, according to a press release.

Economic and financial stress, as well as retirement issues, were other reasons leading to alcohol and drug problems.

The survey also found that about half of participants abused alcohol and prescription drugs out of all possible substances. In fact, 90 percent of survey participants said alcohol is one of the substances they abused, and about 50 percent stated they abused prescription drugs.

Forty percent of the participants reported that they started abusing substances after age 48, and 79 percent starting using drugs and alcohol before 25.

The 100 participants used in the survey are alumni of the Hanley Center who are over 48 years old, said Dr. Barbara Krantz, the medical director and medical director of research at Hanley Center, in an email.

The last of the results showed that over 40 percent of alumni who participated in the survey decided to pursue treatment partially due to family influence, according to the press release.

Krantz, who is an expert on the prescription pain medication epidemic and the disease of addiction, said she has seen a rising number of older adults get treatment, and she expects the number will double by 2020 because of the aging Baby Boomers.

“As older adults enter a transitional stage in their lives, new stressors such as financial strain, grieving the loss of a parent or age-related health issues, make them more prone to depression and anxiety,” Krantz said.

“Without the proper tools to manage their emotions, these older adults may turn to quick fixes such as alcohol and drugs, which can ultimately lead to dependency.”

Older adults who are substance abusers can have even more harmful health side effects because of the other diseases and disorders they are exposed to as part of the aging process.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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