Substance abuse among the elderly and the need for drug rehab for seniors is a serious problem in the U.S. In recent years, as many as 20,000 individuals admitted to drug rehab in 2007 were age 50 or older and that number does not seem to be diminishing any time soon. According to SAMHSA or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of seniors with substance abuse will reach 4.4 million by the year 2020.
Although excessive and chronic alcohol use seems to be the biggest factor among seniors with substance use, an increasing number also have prescription drug use as well. Most individuals in this group do not turn to street drugs such as Ecstasy, Cocaine or Heroin. For many individuals age 50 or older, alcohol detox and alternatives to alcohol treatment are much needed. Sadly however, many individuals in this age group will not seek help for alcohol use and a situation that may be remedied now, will only worsen later, especially when prescription drugs are added in the mix.
There are many reasons why seniors will not seek the help that they need; one of them being the need for secrecy. Most were brought up in a culture in which you do not publicly air your personal or family problems and it may take an intervention to convince them that they need help. Once an individual from this age group enters detox or drug rehab treatment, they likeliness for them to be successful is very much in their favor because they will stick it out and be committed to completing the program.
Another factor that contributes to success is whether or not the program is geared towards finding a solution or focusing on a forever addiction. Many alcohol and drug rehab centers for seniors work off the philosophy that addiction is an incurable disease. At an elders' age, they may lose the will to fight the battle with themselves, which is why they have turned to substance in the first place.
A program that would help an elderly person overcome substance use focuses on self change and self assessment. Through a program such as this an elder would understand their life at any age can have meaning and purpose. A senior may drink for various reasons, because they are bored, due to loneliness or simply because they feel like their life is over. St Jude's can help an elderly person find meaning again and make productive choices to live their life to the fullest and make the most of the years they have left.