Substance Abuse And The Elderly Essay

2009 words - 8 pages

The purpose of this paper is to determine the level of substance abuse in the elderly community. There is concern that as the population ages in the United States, there will be a significant increase in the number of older adults being treated for substance abuse problems. This paper seeks to understand the issues and concerns that are consequently involved with substance abuse among the elderly.

There is no doubt that there is a prevalence of substance abuse throughout several age groups. To a certain extent, a society is faced with the reality of controlling substance abuse. Or allow it run rampant throughout the community. Often times, we hear and read about the level of substance abuse among teen, young adults and mid-aged adults. Alcohol, medications, illegal drugs, and over-the-counter medicines can be both abused and misused. It is a widespread belief that age plays a role in the level of influence that drugs and alcohol diminishes. As a person becomes older, drugs and alcohol is not as influential in their loves. This widespread belief has truth. However, it is important to understand that substance abuse is still prevalent in the elderly community.

Drug use appears to negatively affect the health of the elderly at a higher rate than other populations (Benshoff & Koch, 2003). This may be a result of old age. So, it can be understood there is a biological effect of substance abuse among the elderly. The elderly are more susceptible to being admitted into the hospital for adverse effects of substances, while other populations of society are not. Benshoff and Koch asserts, “Intentional abuse of prescription medications to get high is thought to be rare, but over-use does occur among this population. Often this over-use is related to multiple chronic health conditions being treated by several physicians” (2003). This is considered common in the medical community. Physicians for elderly patients lack communication with each other. If the physicians lack high level communication, then prescribed medicines may have an adverse effect on the elderly. The elderly, often times, have cognitive problems, which makes it difficult for the elderly to understand instructions for prescriptions. This can cause a serious issue in this particular population.

It can be determined that the elderly seldom get drugs illicitly. As stated earlier, they usually get drugs by seeing multiple doctors. In addition to this, they stockpile prescribed medications over time, or getting medications from family members. This only contributes to the problems of the elderly. Often times, family members are reluctant to address the issues their elderly family member face.

Although substance abuse among the elderly, like alcohol is low considered compared to the general population, its prevalence is still high. A study showed the prevalence of alcohol related problems ranged from 1.4% to 22% (Adams, et al., 1993). It can be understood that the level of...

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