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Drug and alcohol addiction is an issue that directly affects millions of Americans, and even more when you consider the impact that addiction has on families. Many people may start drinking or using drugs when they’re young, only to find that as they get older, they’re completely dependent on alcohol or drugs. For people who began drinking to numb pain, or using drugs as an escape, their addiction often masks deep-seated trauma or mental health issues.

Whether it’s coping with grief, loss, or simply as a tool to help deal with everyday life challenges, older people may struggle more than younger ones when it comes to overcoming addiction and leading a life of sobriety.

How Does Age Play a Role in Recovery?

While addiction affects people of all ages, younger people are drinking less than previous generations. This may indicate that older people are more likely to struggle with alcohol addiction, although younger people are more likely to have drug addictions, such as opioid or heroin addictions.

Older people may have been in active addiction longer than younger ones, especially if they began drinking heavily or using drugs at a younger age. Plus, the longer that people go without seeking addiction treatment, the more deep-rooted their addiction is, both physically and mentally. Drugs and alcohol change neural pathways in the brain, plus affect the body’s ability to produce serotonin and dopamine, hormones that regulate the mood and provide joy and contentment. Removing the drugs and alcohol from the body can make many older addicts feel empty, sad, or depressed until their body begins producing the “happy hormones” again.

Can Older People Become Sober?

Older people tend to associate more stigma with addiction and mental health treatment than younger people, which may mean that even if they suspect that they need treatment, they may not seek it out because they fear judgment from family, friends, or their community. Creating an environment where older people feel secure in doing the introspection and self-reflection that goes along with addiction recovery is critical to the success of their sobriety.

Older people may have been dependent on drugs or alcohol for many years, too, which makes the healing process longer and more difficult. The body will need more time to heal, which can be physically uncomfortable, and lead some users to seek the escape that drugs and alcohol provide. Plus, when people have been using substances to avoid confronting pain and trauma from their past, it can be emotionally taxing when they begin to confront those issues. Finding the right specialist, one that has experience treating addicts and past trauma, is another thing that can help older addicts successfully become sober.

The Right Treatment, Right Now

America’s Rehab Campus has many different drug and alcohol treatment programs for both younger and older people. We offer medically supervised detox, helping ease the withdrawal symptoms and monitor your condition, as well as both inpatient and outpatient treatment that addresses the nature of addiction and provides tools for people to prevent relapse. We also offer outpatient programs that allow you to remain at home and work, while still receiving the treatment and therapy you need. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s never too late for treatment. Give us a call today or visit us online to find the right program for you.