Addiction Among Older Adults

By John Bauslaugh on October 28, 2015

Abuse and misuse of prescription drugs among those over 65 years of age is higher than any other age group. And it is no wonder while the older adult age group constitutes 16% of our population, they consume close to 30% of all prescriptions that are written. Add this fact to several losses and life changing events that an older individual may experience, it is easy to understand how some older adults are vulnerable to addiction.



What puts the older adult at risk for developing a drug addition? First of all, because the older population is more prone to experience illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia. They are also more likely to be taking prescription medications and/or over-the-counter drugs. In fact, approximately 75% of individuals over 65 are using some kind of medication, one third of which are over-the-counter. Often, they may inappropriately use medications intended for therapeutic purposes, or they may attempt to medicate themselves. Believing that the doctor prescribed these pills, therefore they must be good for me. Some individuals may see no danger in over medicating. These behaviors can not only lead to addiction, but also to serious bodily harm. Many life changing events can also make the older adult more susceptible to developing an addiction. Retirement, the death of a loved one, the loss of physical health, and the loss of independence can lower self-esteem and impact an individual's ability to cope. Some individuals may also use alcohol, nicotine, or gambling as unhealthy attempts to fill the voids in their lives.


Addiction is a reality among the older population. There are many institutions and rehab clinics with specialized programs tailored to meet the unique needs of the addicted older adult. Consisting of a comprehensive assessment, group counselling, educational sessions, and recreational activities. These programs guides patients and their families through the recovery process. It is important that people remain aware of the risks that surround addiction. Addiction is a disease that can have devastating effects.

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By John Bauslaugh| October 28, 2015
Categories:  Care Giving

About the Author

John Bauslaugh

John Bauslaugh

John has been reporting on home health care and independent living for over ten years. In addition to extensive research, John writes on important issues from personal experience.

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