Erik Erikson, a renowned psychologist, developed a theory on the stages of man’s psychosocial development. The last stage, occurring in old age, is all about inner reflection where pride, or guilt and remorse preoccupy people’s thoughts in their twilight years. The latter feelings can easily spiral down into deep depression and despair. According to Abby Ellin of The New York Times, the feeling of shame and loneliness, compounded by retirement and divorce, that befalls many elderly people could for them easily build to a point where they can’t cope well enough at this stage, which has led many of them to escape to worsening substance abuse.
About 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and the number is expected to increase in the following years. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 231,000 people in America over the age of 50 have sought help for their addiction. Local statistics provided by the National Institute for Drug Abuse also cited alcohol abuse as one of the most common reasons why people undergo rehab in St. Louis, MO.
However, despite the rise of alcohol abuse among older adults, and the concern that it is becoming one of the fastest growing health problems in the country, more viable and long-term solutions have not been given sufficient attention. Alcohol can be more damaging to the elderly compared to its effects on younger adults because their health and bodily systems, in general, are weaker and frailer. Aging affects the body’s ability to properly hold and absorb liquor, binge drinking can very likely lead to falls and serious fractures, not to mention the body developing a myriad of other diseases, such as liver damage, cancer, and immune system disorders.
Ignore the misconception that the elderly are too stubborn to be taught or changed so that treatments will only have little effect on them. This is not true; there are several existing studies that demonstrate the positive effects of rehab programs on them. So if you feel you or a family member is experiencing alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to contact a St. Louis outpatient rehab center like the Midwest Institute for Addiction.
(Source: More Older Adults Are Struggling With Substance Abuse, The New York Times, October 3, 2014)