Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Older Adults & Substance Abuse

It’s important for all of us to check in on our loved ones to ask about any challenges they may be experiencing. While the economic down turn has been hard for many people around the country, it has continued to have a negative impact on specific population groups. A recent treatment episode report states that the number of older adults treated for substance abuse has doubled in the last decade according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report states that the rates for substance abuse, unemployment and homelessness have increased as well as the number of older adults reporting no principle source of income. People in the study represent some of the people in our own families. In addition, the number of married older adults has decreased and the number of older adults who have never been married has increased. While many of these changes have been observed among other groups, Peter Delany, an expert in substance abuse and director of the substance abuse organization's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, states, "What we have is a group of older people who have fewer resources socially, fewer fiscal resources, and have less employability." As a result of hard times and a lack of resources, some older adults have relied on substances to cope with their changing circumstances. You might know someone who has faced these circumstances. They could even be in your own family. Your willingness to check in with them could make a huge difference in their life.
Well, what can you do for yourself or your loved ones?
1. Check in with your loved ones on a regular basis, which could be once a week to once a month. Ask if their circumstances have changed and how they are coping with changes.

2. If you know that they have lost their job or struggling financially, try to be a listening ear and see if you can connect them to resources

3. If they are willing, try to help them find someone they can trust to talk to and share with.

4. In addition to a trustworthy friend, they might need the help of a professional, especially if they are using substances to help them cope with their life circumstances.

5. Remember, you don’t have to fix their problem, but being there for them can make a huge difference in how they rebound and cope with their difficult circumstances.

For additional information on the study, visit

1 comment: