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The Growing Problem With Alcoholism In The Elderly

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Alcoholism In The Elderly Teenagers, collegiates, and even the middle aged aren’t the only ones struggling with alcohol these days. Alcoholism in the elderly is a growing problem in our nation, and we need to start doing something about it.

Did you know an estimated 2.8 million older adults in America meet the alcohol abuse criteria? And that number is expected to raise to 5.7 million people by 2020, according to a 2014 study in the peer-reviewed specialty journal, Addiction.

Related: Am I Addicted To Alcohol? (Quiz)

Alcoholism In The Elderly

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shared some sobering facts about the issue.

14% of elderly patients who enter the ER show alcoholism symptoms.

Between 6% and 11% of all elderly patients admitted to the hospital show signs of alcoholism.

In addition, 20% of all elderly patients admitted to psychiatric services show symptoms of alcoholism.

An estimated 17% (8 million) of elderly people are reported to abuse alcohol and drugs.

Even knowing these kinds of numbers, only 2% of all admissions to drug and alcohol rehab are for people 55 and over. Alcohol was the primary drug for 80% of those admissions – not prescription drugs or illegal street drugs.

Dr. Suresh Rajpara, chief medical officer at the Jerome Golden Center in West Palm Beach, FL, also brought up some other concerns for elderly people who are drinking in excess. Not just physical health issues to their organs, but also what alcohol does to the brain chemically which could also aid in instability and falls, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even stress.

“It definitely affects the brain,” said Rajpara, who specializes in geriatric psychiatry. “As people age, there is already cognitive decline, and alcohol further increases the problem.”

What’s the solution to alcoholism among the elderly?

Although many people would say moderation is the key, if a person – no matter what age – suffers from the disease of alcoholism, moderation is not an option. Alcoholism is a primary, progressive brain disease which means it gets worse – never better. If you tell an alcoholic to “moderate” their drinking, you could be setting them up for failure, or even death.

The best option for an alcoholic is to simply not drink, but that too can not only be deadly if done on their own. It’s also difficult without the proper support. Entering a treatment program that has both a medical detox, followed by inpatient and outpatient programs, works best.  Especially if the person who is suffering thinks there is no point to getting sober long-term because of their age. Alcoholics can and do recover at any age, and the idea that someone is too old to recover is simply ludicrous outdated thinking.

Learn more about alcohol rehab for the elderly and how you or your loved can recover today by clicking here: Alcohol Treatment Center

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