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Older Adults and Substance Abuse: Specialized Treatment

Posted on :  April 21st, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Substance abuse is not a domain reserved for teens and young adults. In today’s world, anyone and everyone has the potential to become an addict – even older adults. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available and in most cases, older adults have more success with treatment options than younger adults have.

Options for Treatment

When it comes to treatment for addiction, the options include medication and psychological therapy. In many instances, both are used. The decisions about the best course of treatment are usually made by physicians, counselors, or other healthcare professionals. The medical options include prescriptions that help fight addictions to opioids as well as those for nicotine and alcohol.

Entering Into Detox

Getting involved in a treatment program involves taking the first step. This is usually detox – which is actually a large step that involves the body ridding itself of the addictive substance. This is done under the supervision of a drug counselor or a physician. Some addicts will have to taper off of their drugs, but others will just go “cold turkey.” Detox is not treatment; it is just the first step addicts have to take before beginning a prescribed treatment program.

Detoxing is not easy. Some addicts will experience physical symptoms that feel awful because of the cravings the body has for the drug of choice. Every addict will detox in different amounts of time, based on their level of addiction, metabolism, and other characteristics. Common issues that arise during detox include depression, fatigue, seizures, sleep problems, and nausea. Doctors should be involved when addicts are detoxing.

Medications that Work

There are some medications that will help addicts during their treatment programs. They help make the behavioral therapies easier to manage. The medications also reduce the chances of relapse. Medications allow the brain to function well without the use of the addictive drug. The medications fight cravings and other unwanted behaviors that arise while in treatment. Some of the prescribed medications include Suboxone and Subutex (buprenorphine), which is used to fight opioid addictions to heroin and some prescription pain medications. Another commonly used prescription is methadone. Buprenorphine is often used in the short term because it makes withdrawal symptoms manageable.

Useful Behavioral Therapies

There are several behavioral therapies that are used during treatment, too. These therapies are designed to keep addicts on the path to health so they avoid relapse. Counselors help addicts recognize thought processes that trigger the desire to take drugs. They notice what causes their cravings. They also learn how to manage stress and work with people around them to stay sober.

Behavioral treatments fall into four categories:

  1. Cognitive behavioral treatment: This type of treatment involves recognizing, avoiding and coping with the triggers that can cause a desire to take drugs. Thoughts and reactions are the focus in this type of therapy.
  2. Group therapy: This type of therapy involves a group of people who are relative close in age and fighting addiction. People work together with a counselor to best manage their addictions and stay on the path to help. Many people benefit from knowing they are not alone in their fight to become sober.
  3. Receiving incentives: This type of therapy includes giving the addict incentives for working through addiction. Rewards are given when addicts attend counseling appointments and when they take their medications. Many are rewarded for avoiding drugs.
  4. Motivational questioning: This type of therapy is usually done once – at the beginning of treatment. Addicts are interviewed about their addictions and their desires to get well. The addict must be committed to success, or the therapies will not work.

If you have any questions or concerns about substance abuse treatment options for recovery, or if you are worried about an addiction, please contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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