The Aging Process and Addiction

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The aging process may present problems when it comes to alcohol and medication, because as we age our bodies respond differently. It is not uncommon for elderly people to develop alcoholism or an addiction to their medications.

Be aware:

Some medicines won’t mix well with others, including over-the-counter and herbal remedies.

Many medications don’t mix well with alcohol. Read the instructions.

Changes in body weight can reflect the medicine you need to take and how long it stays in your body.

Your circulation may slow down, and this can affect how quickly drugs get to the liver and kidneys. The liver and kidneys may work slower, which affects how a drug breaks down and is eliminated. So medicine may remain in your body longer and create a greater chance of interaction.

Misuse can happen unintentionally.

Signals to look for:

Memory trouble after a drink or taking medication.

Loss of coordination (unsteady walking or frequent falls)

Change in sleeping habits

Unexplained bruises

Irritability, sadness, depression

Unexplained chronic pain

Change in eating habits

Preferring to stay alone

Failing to bathe or keep clean

Difficulty concentrating

Difficulty staying in touch with family or friends

Lack of interest in usual activities

If you think the aging process could be responsible for addiction to alcohol or medications, here’s what you can do.

Talk with your doctor or other professional.

Ask for advice from a staff member at a senior center or other program working with seniors.

Don’t hide the problem. Share your concerns with a friend, family member or spiritual adviser.

If you believe that there is a serious addiction, you can find helpful pages on this site. You may also consider a rehab that specializes in geriatric care and private counseling can also be effective. The elderly can benefit from AA and other support groups. At one time it was believed that the elderly did not do well in treatment, but this has proven to be false. Recent studies reveal that they comply very well with addiction treatment The more you know about medication and the aging process the more you have the power help or prevent addiction in the first place.

The AA is based on the 12 steps. Learn about the 12 step program of AA The 12 steps and the program, help many people stay sober. It's about people helping people. And, it's particularly helpful for elderly alcoholics/addicts, because they can develop a network of sober friends.

If you or your family has a question just ask and others will appreciate it as well and if you think a family consultation or some coaching to move your loved one into treatment, or simply get help here's what to do

More information on elderly abusers

Are you a Baby Boomer? This site is helpful

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From Aging Process to Stop Being Addicted

(Source: Substance abuse and mental Health Services Administration 2005, SMA# 3995)

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