When most people think of substance abuse, they tend to picture young adults experimenting in their basements or middle aged individuals who were never able to overcome their habit once it set in. Whatever your image of an addict may be, chances are you don't envision an elderly individual. But, according to a recent piece from The New York Times, rates of substance abuse among this population are higher than ever.
"The notion that the elderly might be abusing or addicted to alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medications may strike some as improbable," the news outlet states.
However, NYT points out that because members of the Baby Boomer generation grew were adolescents in the 60's and 70's, many were introduced to illicit substances to a greater degree than their parents and grandparents had been.
Citing a report from the National Academy of Sciences Board on Healthcare Services, the news outlet notes that between 14 and 20 percent of older Americans were believed to have a substance abuse problem or mental disorder in 2011, and that number is set to swell as the elderly population does.
How, then, has this issue gone overlooked for so long?
"Detecting drug or alcohol problems in the elderly is difficult in part because family members and clinicians alike are reluctant to ask about it," NYT remarks.
Are you concerned that an elderly relative may be abusing their medication or consuming too much alcohol on a regular basis? If so, don't shy away from the issue. Get your loved one the help they need by contacting a professional interventionist. These individuals can help you coordinate a substance abuse intervention so you can tackle this emotionally trying issue directly.