Substance abuse of alcohol and opioids in individuals over 65 is on the rise, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in Rockville, Maryland. Research reveals that approximately 27 percent of all seniors regularly abuse alcohol and prescription medication.
There are two classifications of substance abuse in seniors. One is known as ‘hardy survivor.’ This term refers to individuals who regularly abused alcohol and drugs prior to their golden years. The second classification is known as ‘late onset.’ Individuals in this category started using substances after reaching their senior years. Regardless of when the substance abuse started, there are treatment options available that can help a senior cope with the trials of addiction.
Substance abuse causes not only physical impairments but also mental impairments. The addict ceases to be normal when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This puts the senior at increased risk for falls or other accidents that could have staggering physical effects, such as fractures or head trauma. Judgment and cognitive abilities are also affected by substance abuse. A stovetop can be left on, or a cigarette dropped. Many catastrophic things can happen as a direct result of the impairments caused by substance abuse.
When a senior is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they are not themselves. They may lack physical and mental control. This puts them at an increased risk of falling and sustaining an injury. They can also inadvertently catch the house on fire, or flood the house by forgetting to turn off a faucet. In the event of such an incident, medical alerts can be beneficial, because the senior can quickly summon help. Substance abuse also creates confusion, and a senior might forget where a phone is to call for help. In these cases, having medical alerts readily available may be a lifesaver.
Symptoms of substance abuse may be moderate to severe.
Seniors with substance abuse issues often opt to forego medical alert services. In such a situation, the senior should take precautions to help ensure their safety when using drugs or alcohol.
Substance abuse of alcohol and drugs is an ever-growing problem in seniors. Many seniors do not believe they have a problem, and only view their habits as ‘self-medicating.’ Unfortunately, many seniors end up overmedicating continuously, with dangerous or life-threatening results. Medical alerts give the senior the ability to summon help if they should accidentally overdose, fall, sustain an injury, face a home disaster, or encounter another type of dangerous situation.