Drug abuse in older adults is often associated with worse medical outcomes and an increased burden of care. The long-term use of these substances can also lead to adverse neurological results.

Drug Abuse Among Older Adults: 15 Tips To Seek Help And Treatment

Although it can be hard to prevent them from using drugs, there are certain things you can do to avoid drug abuse. Recovery for older adults struggling with drug abuse may not be an easy path, but this is an essential step to take.

Recovery can be a long process that requires intensive treatment for those struggling with addiction. Keep reading for some treatment tips on how to stay sober.

  1. Be Open and Honest

The hardest part about recovery is admitting you have a drug addiction. The only way for an older adult to get the most out of the treatment is to be open and honest about their problem. This is especially true when you talk to counselors and other individuals in the rehabilitation program. Conversing with other people about how you started drug abuse is when breakthroughs can happen. You can take over your future and change for the better by admitting and understanding what happened in the past.

Drug abuse causes the brain to make excuses and justifications to continue with the addiction. Admitting that you have a drug problem is proof that you have the courage to face the issue. Take the time to reflect on how drug abuse has affected your life negatively and how it can improve once you become sober.

  1. Don’t Treat Them Differently

Drug abuse is a disease. Sometimes, it’s okay to get frustrated or angry with your older loved one about the addiction problems that they’re battling. However, you may have to limit your contact with a loved one who is still actively using drugs.

You should be wary about treating a drug-dependent person, especially if it’s an older adult. Don’t treat them like an outcast or a disgrace. This can shame them and may even stop them from reaching out to seek help and treatment. Try to talk to them as often as you can, especially if they are starting the recovery process.

  1. Educate Yourself

This is essential if you’re going to take care of an older loved one who struggles with drug abuse. You need to learn more information about drug addiction. Understand how substance addiction starts, its underlying causes, and how it can impact a person’s life and relationships. Knowledge is a key factor as it can help you understand more about your loved one. You may also refer to online resources for more details about drug abuse, support, treatment, etc.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can play a vital role in drug and alcohol recovery. It can restore balance to the body, reduce anxiety and depression, and boost self-confidence.

Interestingly, aerobic exercise protects against binge-like patterns of excessive drug intake. Thus, it is a powerful treatment intervention in populations that suffer from high rates of compulsive substance use.

Exercise may also be a powerful, low-cost way to help a recovering addict overcome drug addiction and stay sober. A lack of exercise leads to increased irritability, frustration, and a poor mood. If done correctly, exercise can help a recovering addict achieve lifelong sobriety.

  1. Involve The Family

It’s important to involve the family in the client’s recovery. Likewise, a family member can reinforce and motivate the older loved one to complete treatment. Besides, the patient’s family may be the last line of support. There could even be unsupportive family members who will discourage the addict from seeking treatment, causing them to regress into old, self-abusive behaviors. Hence, a supportive family will be crucial for the treatment process and the addict’s long-term recovery.

Ultimately, family involvement in drug abuse treatment is a win-win situation for the patient and their family.

  1. Manage Expectations

Managing expectations during a drug abuse treatment program is a critical part of the recovery process. Although many people go into drug rehab expecting to return to the same lifestyle they had before they began abusing drugs, this is not the case. The skewed expectations and the person’s ability to bounce back from disappointments contribute to the damage expectations can cause. In some cases, unrealistic expectations may cause the person to doubt their motivation for getting clean and sober in the first place.

The best way to manage expectations during a drug abuse treatment program is to remember that recovery is not a straight line, and there will be bad days and good days. Sometimes, they may experience both phases several times. Often, relapse and complacency are consequences of not managing expectations during treatment.

  1. Manage Stress

Addiction treatment programs often offer stress management services to older adult patients, too. Stress is often a factor in drug addiction, and by learning how to deal with it, people can better handle substance abuse cravings and triggers. This can help them get more out of treatment and avoid relapse.

It is crucial to note that everyone experiences stress differently. A situation that does not cause anxiety to one person may cause a major problem for another. This is why no single strategy works for everyone. In addition, you must experiment with various ways to determine which one suits your personality. By being aware of your stress levels, you will reduce the chances of relapse. Stress management techniques can also treat drug addiction or alcohol problems effectively.

  1. Seek Help From A Mental Health Professional

Getting help from a mental health professional can be a critical part of treatment for substance use disorders. Although your primary care physician may refer you to a substance abuse specialist, it is vital, to be honest with them about your concerns.

It’s crucial to have an objective perspective because many people who have substance use disorders resist treatment. It’s also essential to recognize that you cannot force someone to be sober, take medication, or attend appointments. While you may have strong feelings, remember that treatment should also help them return to the quality of life that they deserve.

  1. Control Emotions

Controlling your emotions is one of the most effective ways when you’re trying to recover from drug addiction. Managing your emotions is a monumental task, but failing to do so can lead to physical relapse. Thus, you should develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress and other common triggers.

Changing your life after drug addiction involves taking a positive approach to people and your environment. It means being kinder to yourself and others. Many of the people in rehab used to put on a tough outer persona to avoid being around others. They had to hide behind this mask so people wouldn’t see their flaws and still see them as the strong selves they used to be. However, once you have decided to change, you’ll find new directions and become happier.

  1. Avoid Relapse

Avoid situations that could trigger a relapse. Although it may seem easy to weasel out of situations where you would typically indulge, the circumstances that make us crave drugs or alcohol aren’t easy to avoid most of the time. It’s crucial that this craving goes away so you won’t fall back into a dangerous pattern.

Another important strategy for avoiding relapse while recovering from drug addiction is keeping a daily journal or private blog. Setting achievable but reasonable goals will help you slowly get back on your feet and live the life you enjoyed in the past. Small victories are the key to successful recovery, so if you set goals too high and fail to meet any of them, you may find it hard to try again and keep on pursuing your recovery. Instead, set smaller, more manageable goals. Remember that achieving small successes often leads to bigger accomplishments.

  1. Avoid Toxic Relationships

One of the most important things you can do in recovery is to avoid toxic relationships. These can either be a source of emotional and psychological pain or a direct cause of your drug use. Disengaging from these people is a vital first step in recovery, but it may not be possible if you’re adamant about cutting them off in your life.

Toxic relationships may include gossiping, jealousy, and enabling behaviors. These relate to people who no longer enjoy spending time together. They feel moody and insecure after being together. If this sounds familiar, you may want to avoid these people. However, if you are unsure whether or not you should avoid them, it’s best that you keep an eye out for the red flags so you can prepare for your next move.

  1. Overcome Your Cravings

Despite the benefits of sobriety, cravings are a common part of life for those struggling with addiction. Yet overcoming cravings is critical to staying sober for those recovering from drug addiction. There are several ways to cope with cravings, including learning to manage your emotions, avoiding triggers, and developing coping mechanisms.

Although many people in recovery experience cravings, these urges usually don’t persist as long as they did in the early days of sobriety. After years of sobriety, cravings for drugs will decrease significantly. Hence, it’s crucial to avoid contact with people who use drugs and seek support from loved ones.

  1. Maintain Abstinence

Often, people who enter rehab skip the abstinence stage altogether, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Developing coping skills is critical to keeping sober. This step is vital for preventing relapse and allows you to take a more active role in your recovery. Here, you will also learn to recognize triggers and signs of relapse.

The first step in maintaining abstinence is to learn to practice healthy habits that will help you cope with negative emotions. If you have tried and failed to avoid negative emotions in the past, these will likely surface again. You’ll have difficulty maintaining your abstinence once you start engaging in harmful behaviors again.

  1. Keep A Sober Social Circle

Building a sober social circle is an important part of your recovery plan. Your circle is a great support when you’re struggling with addiction. Your family and friends should be on top of your support system during these trying times, but you can also build a new network by reaching out to people in your community and those you’ll meet during local events.

One of the biggest challenges when recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is maintaining a sober social circle. Many addicts report feeling isolated and lonely. They turn to alcohol and other drugs to ease the social anxiety that has characterized their lives. They often ruin their relationships, including their careers, because they use drugs to cope with social anxiety. So, it’s vital to have sober friends in your life as they will encourage you to stay sober and support you while you’re working on your recovery.

  1. Address Underlying Issues

Drug addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life; from relationships to health. Consequently, recovery from addiction requires the patient to resolve the underlying issues that may have led to the problem. You’ll undergo treatment that may include establishing a new way of living, dealing with ambivalence about the treatment, and addressing co-occurring disorders.

Recovery from drug addiction involves resolving underlying issues, such as physical and mental problems.

Individuals battling addiction problems often rely on their social and personal networks to support their recovery process. Family and friends often become the champions for their loved ones, enduring increased stress, shame, anger, and fear. Peer support from friends is also essential in engaging individuals in recovery and addressing underlying issues. Recovery requires respect and acceptance of individuals and the communities where they belong. It also involves addressing issues of diversity in the treatment and support system.

Bottom Line

The most important thing to remember here is not to let older adults who suffer from drug abuse feel left out and carry the burden by themselves. Allowing them to engage in activities you find enjoyable and healthy will prevent a relapse. Furthermore, continue to offer support and help to your loved ones so that they will proceed with the treatment process and live a happy and sober life.