When I turned 64, I decided to go to rehab. Now, thanks to that decision, my life is much better. In 2016, my daughter discovered my unhealthy alcohol use when she found me passed out while I was supposed to be babysitting my grandchild.
My family took me to a care and treatment center in Pennsylvania that had started a program specifically for older adults. This is a growing problem that treatment facilities across the country are taking on.
Treating older adults with substance use disorders presents different challenges compared to younger individuals. Often, their loved ones may notice that they are becoming more forgetful and prone to falls. However, these signs are often attributed to natural aging, which may not always be the case. Dr.
Ming Wang, Karen’s associate medical director and a recovering addict himself, explains that most Baby Boomers are resistant to treatment and only come if there is a strong motivator, such as the threat of not seeing their grandkids. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2021, around 13.4 million Americans aged 50 and older had a substance use disorder. Additionally, drug overdose deaths in people aged 65 and older have more than tripled in the last two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Unfortunately, this problem often goes unnoticed due to misconceptions about older individuals.
Many Medicare plans offer coverage for treatment, but more resources are needed to bridge the affordability gap. Despite the challenges, those in recovery, like Elaine, commend the decision to seek help rather than struggling alone.
They can now experience a life free from the constant craving for.