Age Groups and Drug Addiction

You age can have a significant effect on your vulnerability to substance abuse and addiction as well as the health risks that result from these issues. In particular, if you abuse drugs and alcohol as a teenager or a child, it can hinder the development of your brain.

As a young adult getting into college for the first time, you might find yourself in an environment where alcohol and drugs are much more accessible than they were at home. However, even the elderly might develop a substance use disorder as a result of taking medications for pain and other problems that affect senior citizens.

In the guide below, you will learn more about the relationship between drug and alcohol addiction and age groups:

1. Children and Teenagers

Children and teens still have developing brains. This makes them increasingly susceptible to substance use disorders than other age groups. While growing up, you might also become rebellious. As part of your rebellion against the wishes of your parents and other figures in authority, you may turn to drugs and alcohol.

NIDA - the National Institute on Drug Abuse - also reports that teenagers who were abused physically or sexually have a higher likelihood of getting involved with these substances and ending up struggling with addiction.

The other factors that could increase this risk include lack of supervision, prenatal exposure to addictive substances, genetic vulnerabilities to addiction, association with people who abuse these substances, and lack of supervision.

2. Young Adults

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey for 2015, about 5 percent of all college students took marijuana on a daily basis. For many years now, this number has been growing steadily. Past year use of cocaine, on the other hand, among college students was rated at 4 percent by 2014 by the same study.

In many cases, college is the first time that a large majority of young adults move away from their homes and start living without their parents. As a result, many of them use this time to experiment with their bodies - which typically involves using drugs and drinking alcohol.

Association with other substance using peers and lack of supervision also increase the risk of addiction for many college students and other young adults who are at college-age.

3. Senior Citizens

After children have grown up and left their homes, they often do not think that their parents are going to be affected by substance abuse and addiction especially if there have not been any signs and symptoms of these problems.

However, there are several factors that could contribute to drug related problems among senior citizens and the elderly. These include but are not limited to boredom after retirement, waning friendships, ailing health, the death of a partner or spouse, and many others. On the other hand, if they treat physical pain using opioids, there is a high risk that they could become addicted.

As you grow older, injuries and surgical procedures could create pain that you can only assuage using medications. If you are struggling with chronic back pain and your doctor prescribes oxycodone, you may use the medication in the long term and end up struggling with dependence, tolerance, and addiction.

Some of the symptoms of substance abuse and addiction among the elderly include:

  • Chronic health complaints, especially those that are not supported
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Loss of interest in the hobbies they previously used to enjoy
  • Memory loss
  • More frequent than normal use of pain medications and tranquilizers
  • Slurred speech
  • Solitude

If you have addicted elderly parents, you might mistake these symptoms as being a part of the normal aging process or think that they point to a case of dementia or another mental health problem.

However, you need to realize that the effects of drugs and alcohol can be particularly harmful for senior citizens. This is why it is important to remain vigilant as well as get your parents the help that they need to overcome the problem.

Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation

In 2016, the Facing Addiction in America report released by the Surgeon General showed that more than 20 million Americans met the basic criteria for an addiction or a substance use disorder. Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of these people sought the addiction treatment services that they needed.

It is important to keep in mind that addiction is a progressive condition. This means that it is in your best interests to treat it before it becomes life-threatening. Luckily, the improvements in the addiction treatment profession means that it is now possible to overcome your growing substance abuse problem.

While seeking help for this issue, you should ensure that the treatment uses a continuum of care. This means that you will be guided through different levels of care based on your needs and requirements.

The treatment process might start with an intensive inpatient addiction recovery program that begins with a medically managed detox service before you make the transition to an outpatient recovery program. You will also be provided with aftercare and relapse prevention support services.

Generally, the rehab center you choose will provide you with a thorough evaluation and assessment both at the beginning of your treatment journey as well as in the course of this journey. This way, you will be able to receive the recovery services that you need most at each stage in your treatment to ensure that you have the best chances of achieving full recovery.

In case you were found to have co-occurring medical, mental health, or behavioral health disorders during the initial assessment, the recovery center might recommend that you go through integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

The important thing to keep in mind is that addiction affects people in different age groups in different ways. However, as long as you are able to enroll in an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program that suits your needs and requirements, it might be possible for you to overcome your substance abuse problem once and for all.

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