Drugs and Alcohol


The increase of the number of growing elderly population with addiction in alcohol and drug problems has become one of the most important public health challenges and attracted considerable interest in the society. Alcohol and drug use cause a great variety of problems not only to the individual, but to the family and to the community. The harms include physical, social, psychological and economic ones, as well as higher risks of premature death, blood-borne virus, such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, respiratory failure, overdose and mental health problem. Most of the older American adults, who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, are quiet successful people in their families and work. They are considered to have a kind of disease, which prevents them to lead more happy and successful life free from alcohol and drug addiction (Kuhar, 2011). This problem is often ignored by society, doctors and health care communities. In order to deal with drug and alcohol addiction among older American adults, it is important to realize that this problem should be solved in the future.

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Basic Addiction Problem

Though many alcohol and drug addicted individuals are suffering from a serious disease, they keep living without medical treatment. The number of older adults, who are suffering from alcohol and medication dependency, is overwhelming today, and it is estimated over three million people. Older adults, who are alcohol and drug addicted, need special medical care and cannot live alone in the old age. According to research, alcohol and medication dependence among older American adults is one of the most severe health care challenges (Rice, 2009). Drug abuse among the elderly greatly depends on the misuse of prescription drugs. In order to prevent lost resources and lives, authorities must provide education and treatment for older adults and their families.

Research has taught how drugs, alcohol and other pleasures affect the brain. It is a well-known fact that drugs, alcohol, the Internet use and gambling affect the brain similarly (Rice, 2009). Ethics and morality identify the difference between alcohol and drug abuse and pleasure. Drugs, for example, create demons in humans’ brain by disrupting nerve cells and the chemicals, which wreak havoc in many people and get out of control. Alcohol and drug addiction is dangerous and needs professional assistance. It addiction leads to serious distress in the person’s life. There are many different ways of dealing with addiction. Self-assessment is essential to improving one’s life. Alcohol and drug addiction is a progressive process. Basic addiction symptoms are as follows:

  1. Sweating;
  2. Hallucinations;
  3. Vomiting;
  4. Anger or irritability;
  5. Nausea;
  6. Hot or cold flashes;
  7. Memory lapses;
  8. Poor concentration;
  9. Dreams of using or drinking.

The above symptoms are absolute proof that the human’s body is addicted and dependent on a drug. For many of addicted older American adults, the fact that they are still alive seems to be proof enough that they do not have a problem with drugs or alcohol. The point is that addicted people cannot stop. If they could stop, they would have done so a long time ago before they began losing their families, jobs, relationships and friends. These people are out of control. The purpose of a substance abuse assessment is to determine where or how far a person is with their substance abuse and then refer them to adequate treatment. The purpose of a substance abuse assessment is also to determine what kind and how much treatment a client may need.

As long as people are drinking or taking drugs they do not think about their problems, such as, for example, failing marriage and lost jobs. They are relying on alcohol and drugs for their emotional and negative thinking, as well as feeling better physically when they felt happier. Left to these behaviors, they would most certainly have become physically addicted.

The Main Causes of Addiction

The research asserts that there are five basic genetic needs that must be learned, such as survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. Those, who do not get their genetic needs, will struggle and strive to get them met. If repeated attempts have failed some individuals have a tendency to detach from others. This may be the underlying core issue or cause of their unhappiness. They find creative ways to get their genetic needs met in other ways. Alcohol and drugs are a common method to compensate for unmet needs (Rice, 2009). The alcoholic or the addict always has their drug of choice in their quality world. This is why doctors and close ones have failed in all their attempts to get them to quit. It is also why the addict or alcoholic fails to get sober. They do not want to take the drug or alcohol out of their quality world.

To take something out of one’s quality world means having to put something else in its place. Usually alcohol or drug addicted adults do not know what to replace it with. For example, when a person loses a boyfriend or a girlfriend, he or she usually replaces him or her with someone else. The other alternative is to detach from others and not put anyone in there at all. But the addict or the alcoholic must replace it with something else besides another drug or brand of alcohol. Some people replace their image of their drug with a twelve step program. Others attach to their faith and religion. Still others may find something else to become addicted to, such as coffee, food, sports or work, just to name a few. Once a person begins to make excuses for their drinking or drug use, they are addicted. If a person chooses not to drink or use drugs, his or her body and brain will react violently. The body will begin to have withdrawal symptoms that are very uncomfortable and make the person feel sick.

Family Responses

Aging is the period to integrate life experience, knowledge and spirituality. It is also the time of achieving personal integrity, and to celebrate family and friends. The addicted older adults are blocked from these experiences. Alcohol and other drug addictions close the door to this phase of life. As a rule their health is failing fast, they are unable to care for themselves, and they suffer from deep depression (Kuhar, 2011). Children and family usually do not know what to do in order to help their addicted parents or close ones. Many addicted adults may find the way out in a program designed for the growing elderly population. They attend lectures, group therapy, and grief group. Their children have to come to the family program in order to help their parents. As a result, their memory may improve and appetite will return. Moreover, addicted adults may meet new friends in treatment. Recovery from addiction brings pleasure back into their lives.

In order to help drug or alcohol addicted adults, children and grandchildren must learn about the disease of addiction, treatment, and recovery. Aging parents, grandparents and friends play a valuable role in our lives, the lives of our children, and in the communities. When addiction claims them, everybody loses. It is worth remembering that alcoholism and drug addiction are linked to strokes, cancer, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure and sudden death (Kuhar, 2011). If people are older, they are at higher risk for the negative consequences of alcohol and drug use. The stress of living with alcoholics or drug addicted persons can seriously affect the health of the entire family. Awareness of this health-diminishing effect upon family members is especially critical for older spouses. They are already more vulnerable to illnesses because of advancing age. Older spouses experience illnesses in the same organ systems as their alcoholic mates do and often suffer the exact same diseases. Since the adult children are younger and stronger, they are less susceptible to some of the diseases their parents are at high risk for. It is more likely that they will experience gastrointestinal problems, eating disorders, headaches, depression, and memory loss. Thus, the problem spreads further into the family.


Drug and alcohol addiction is a family disease. No one close to an alcoholic or drug addicted person remains unaffected. When the family gets into recovery, many of the medical problems disappear. Health and family relationship improves. It is important, therefore, to try to solve the problem before it happens. Learning not to enable the disease of addiction requires education and loving honesty. It is important to focus on solution instead of managing the problem. There are various comprehensive websites, which are designed to help older adults to find the agencies appropriate for their needs. In order to deal with drug and alcohol addiction among older American adults, it is important to realize that this problem should be solved in the future using different tools and techniques. Things like chats, discussions, free classes, games and others. Understanding vulnerability is the best way to prevent alcohol and drug addiction. 

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