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Heroin Addiction and Senior Citizens

Heroin Addiction and Senior CitizensWhen people think of illicit drug use, they may imagine that it mainly affects young people. They may associate it with a reckless disregard that more characterizes people who have no families or responsibilities. However, many people do not realize that people who are 50 and older use illicit drugs and need professional treatment.

According to a 2011 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration 16.4 percent of people aged 50 or older reported current illicit drug use. Among adults aged 50 to 59 the rate of current illicit drug use increased from 2.7 to 6.3 percent between 2002 and 2011. Prescription drug abuse among the elderly is a well-known problem, while heroin use among the elderly remains under the radar.

Why Do Elderly People Abuse Heroin?

Senior citizens have unique motivations and issues when it comes to heroin abuse and its consequences. Many people in this age bracket began using drugs in the ‘60’s and have continually indulged in them, or have used them on and off. Others may have only just begun to use opiates like heroin to ward away physical pain that results from aging and medical complications. Many senior citizens must also face their increasing dependence on others and the loss of loved ones. This emotional pain can motivate them to dull their senses or indulge in risky behavior that makes them feel in charge once more.

How to Treat Heroin Abuse in Senior Citizens

The body processes heroin more slowly as it ages, causing more physical complications and an increased need for medical attention. Elderly people often suffer from waning physical and mental health. Diseases, injuries and conditions that cause chronic pain become more common with age, as do mental disorders. Some senior citizens struggle with mental and physical health problems, so they may feel trapped in their bodies and minds. For these people, heroin may seem like a way to escape these issues, even though the relief is temporary: heroin use will only exacerbate both conditions.

A co-occurring disorder means someone has a substance abuse disorder and a mental or physical health disorder at the same time. They are closely related and exacerbate one another, which is why it is important for elderly heroin addicts to undergo professional treatment. Medical and mental health professionals can address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction and its underlying causes. In this way, all issues can be comprehensively addressed to help patients achieve long-lasting recovery.

Heroin Addiction Treatment for Senior Citizens

One of the most difficult aspects of treating senior citizens with addictions is a generational reluctance to admit to drug abuse. This is especially true of heroin abuse, as it carries a heavy stigma. Others have been through treatment before and have little confidence in its effectiveness, as they have backslidden to using drugs. Others are intimidated by the thought of seeking out treatment, and they fear judgment. Some even believe it is too late to seek help.

However, there are drug treatment programs that exclusively help senior citizens. There they can find the shelter and support they need, as well as people they can relate to. It is never too late to end heroin abuse.

Heroin Addiction Treatment for Senior Citizens

If you are a senior citizen struggling with heroin addiction, or if you know someone who is, call our toll-free helpline today. Out admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program. Call today for professional support.