It’s Never Too Late To Get Sober | Here’s Why
Many older adults avoid addiction treatment because they think it’s too late to get sober. However, getting sober at any age brings life-changing benefits, including better health, a longer life, stronger relationships, a greater sense of purpose, and a positive legacy.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 1 million Americans aged 65 and older live with drug addiction (substance use disorder).
Many older adults avoid addiction treatment because they think it’s too late to get sober. However, you can start your recovery journey at any age.
Why It’s Never Too Late To Get Sober
When discussing addiction, many people focus on young adults. This age group indeed has the highest rates of substance misuse.
However, research suggests that older adults may be more vulnerable to addiction because their bodies metabolize drugs more slowly. Their brains may also be more sensitive to drugs.
To make matters worse, addiction is a progressive disease. That means it gets worse the longer you leave it untreated. As a result, getting sober brings a variety of life-changing benefits, no matter your age. These benefits include:
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Like other diseases, addiction takes a serious toll on your body. The specific health risks you face depend on the drugs you use.
For example, people with alcohol use disorder face a high risk of issues like heart disease, liver disease, and certain cancers. Similarly, people addicted to cocaine are more likely to experience cardiovascular problems, including heart attack.
Addiction may also worsen any pre existing health problems you have, especially as an older adult. Some of the most common health problems among older adults that may be exacerbated by drug use include:
- lung and heart problems
- memory problems, including dementia
- mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder
In addition, when intoxicated, you face an increased risk of falls, burns, and other injuries.
As soon as you begin the addiction recovery process, your health will start to improve.
Your treatment team can also help you manage any co-occurring mental health issues that may have contributed to your drug or alcohol addiction. Indeed, many older adults with addiction started misusing drugs to self-medicate stress, grief, or mental illness.
People who achieve long-term sobriety may live longer by avoiding the health problems described above. They also don’t have to worry about overdose. Between 2000 and 2020, overdose death rates among adults aged 65 and older increased from 2.4 to 8.8 deaths per 100,000.
Today, anyone who uses street drugs risks fatal overdose, largely due to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s up to 50 times stronger than heroin. It’s often laced in other drugs, including powder drugs like heroin and pills like Xanax.
When battling addiction, many people engage in destructive behaviors such as lying, stealing, and cheating. Some also become irritable, aggressive, or violent. Others self-isolate or start spending all their time with other people who misuse drugs. All of these behaviors can wreak havoc on your relationships with family members and friends.
Once you get sober, you’ll have the opportunity to apologize to your loved ones and rebuild healthy connections. To support this process, many addiction recovery programs offer family therapy. In family therapy, a behavioral health professional helps you and your loved one manage conflicts, especially those related to your addiction.
Strong, healthy relationships will make the rest of your life much more fulfilling. They can also help motivate you to stay sober.
A Greater Sense Of Purpose
Everyone needs a sense of purpose, no matter their age. At the height of addiction, many people struggle to focus on anything other than drugs. As a result, they abandon their hobbies and passions. Without these activities, it’s easy to lose your sense of purpose.
When you get help for your addiction, you can rediscover your passions and fill your life with meaning. Studies suggest that purpose and meaning may lower your risk of disease and increase your lifespan. As a bonus, sobriety boosts your energy and motivation, making it easier to follow your passions and achieve your goals.
A Positive Legacy
It takes a significant amount of strength to recover from addiction. By taking charge of your health, repairing your relationships, and rediscovering your passions, you’ll leave an inspiring legacy. In addition, you and your loved ones can make plenty of happy, drug-free memories.
Addiction Treatment Options For Older Adults
Depending on your needs, your addiction treatment plan may include services such as:
- medical detox to help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you stop using drugs
- therapy to help you cope with drug cravings and any mental health concerns that may have contributed to your substance abuse
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid or alcohol abuse
- wellness activities, such as journaling, meditation, and exercise
Before you leave the center, your treatment team will create an aftercare plan to help you maintain your recovery. This plan may include relapse prevention strategies such as outpatient care, regular exercise, and housing assistance.
To learn more about addiction treatment programs, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one thrive.
- American Journal of Health Promotion https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8669210/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db455.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/index.html
- National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-older-adults-drugfacts