Few want to believe that the elderly are especially susceptible to substance abuse and addiction but the studies show that the aging population may face even higher risks than younger individuals for a variety of reasons. Older people may have less of a tolerance for drugs and alcohol, and this has been seen with prescription medications and over the counter products. This age group also typically takes certain medications to treat common medical problems that occur as we age. These may include high blood pressure, arthritis, and other conditions. The combination of many medications can cause cause unexpected and unintended side effects that may be dangerous. Some drugs may make others more potent or cause stronger reactions when mixed together. Physicians who treat elderly patients understand these interactions and consider them carefully before prescribing any medications or treatments to ensure the risk of abuse or addiction is kept as low as possible.
Depression can be a big problem as individuals age, and this can cause substance abuse to start. Many older Americans may have one or more drinks on a daily basis, and others misuse prescription medications or illegal street drugs in order to deal with this problem. Loneliness can also be a contributing factor. Many elderly individuals have little contact with family and friends, and they do not have any other support systems in place to help them stay active and engaged. Once they retire and they no longer have the same schedule and responsibilities this can lead to an emotional let down as well. Aging individuals may start drinking or abusing drugs in order to fill large gaps of time that they have available now which was not previously the case.