The disease of addiction has trapped people from all age groups. People of every age group are struggling with addiction, but some group makes up a larger percentage than others.
You will see teenagers, adults, middle-aged persons and senior/old people, all are facing their own unique challenges on their road to recovery.

Getting sober is comparatively hard for old people, especially those who are at ‘after-retirement-stage’ of their life. Their recovery from addiction is unique and requires special attention, considering their problems are mostly overlooked.

The major problems faced by old individuals in their recovery:

1. Habits are Entrenched:
There is a very famous old saying “you can’t teach old dog new tricks”. It means that people of old age will experience more difficulty in learning new things or make changes in their life. We establish a few habits in our lives as we age. Every year as our age-progressed, these habits become part of our lives. It will feel like you cannot leave your habits behind no matter what. And that makes recovery more typical. A decade-old lifestyle is difficult to change. However, it can be done by providing proper care and support. Understanding their dilemma and their struggles will help a lot in recovery.

2. Managing Responsibilities is Hard:
Even in old age a person has many responsibilities like due loans, upcoming retirement, children or grandchildren, community obligations etc. and due to these responsibilities, attending group sessions and meetings become fairly difficult. Life can be complicated and sometimes your health doesn’t support you to manage all the chaos. Just like habits, responsibilities are also hard to manage and require support and understanding. Family members or employers should help them to make time for group meetings for recovery.

3. They Couldn’t find the Reasons to Change:
The psychology of an addict is that they tend to overlook the crisis of addiction until the situation gets really bad. And the same goes for their family. They think everything is fine until something drastic happens. If a person has carried his/her addiction in their later years, they may feel like there is no point in changing their behaviors or habits. They feel like they have no mental or health problems, so there’s no need to change anything. Everything is okay the way it is. For example, if a person is smoking from his adulthood and he managed to get through it, in later years of his life, without facing major health issue, then he will feel like there is no need to change his habit. It is not harming his health or he is immune to the dangers of smoking.
If something has become the part of a person’s life and he is facing no negative consequences from it, then it will become a major struggle to change that habit. In these cases, we need to teach, motivate and make them realize that what could possibly happen to them if they don’t quit. Or make them realize, how important they are to you and you are just not ready to let them go.

4. Presence of Strong Triggers:
When an old age person is struggling with addiction, then his/her brain remembers so many persons, places, and paraphernalia linked with the feeling of being drunk or high. The Euphoria attached to these places or persons can act as strong triggers and manifold the chances of relapse. When the person encounters them again in his/her life, they experience a strong urge to use their substance again. Their brain loses all rational thoughts and strongly focuses on triggers and euphoria of getting high.

Everyone in the recovery is facing the problems with triggers, but the triggers for older people are the most stable ones.
Think about it, if a person has a happy memory of drinking with family, it will be impossible for that person to cut out those people from his/her life. But if he won’t do it, that same family will serve as a strong trigger for his/her, increasing the chances of relapse.
Before getting old, they had felt many changes in their lives regarding jobs, family, and friends, but at this age, it all become stable.

Recovery in old age is comparatively more difficult. We have to understand their struggle and help them accordingly. Although the recovery is much more challenging than people with different age groups, it is not impossible. Try to find the right way to achieve your goal while considering all the factors.
Happy healing!!!

Leave a Reply