Aging and Addiction

People are finding an upside to this self-quarantine business (and, yes, I am still at home). My friend in Colorado excitedly told me she finally has the time to start working on the novel she conceived of when she was 17. Pretty cool. Nearly 50 years later things are coming to fruition.

Finding the time to learn

I am not spending my time in such a lofty pursuit; I’m afraid. The truth of the matter being, she was always the creative one. I am being more practical and spending some of my “bonus” time collecting continuing education hours for my next licensing period. Get ‘em done now and I don’t have to worry later.

Addiction and aging

I often buy lessons for credit from a company called CE4less. The course I am working on now is Alcoholism and Addiction In the Elderly. According to our friends at CE4less.com, the face of addiction is changing. Alcohol abuse and drug abuse, like Trix, are not just for kids anymore. In fact, the number of seniors using drugs and/or alcohol is increasing.1

What causes addiction?

The lesson goes on to talk about all of the things about getting older that might literally drive a person to drink or abuse drugs. Retirement can lead to a lack of purpose, social isolation and just plain, old too much time on your hands. The death of a spouse can lead to depression, loneliness and a myriad of other problems. Is it any wonder the phrase “it has to be 5 o’clock somewhere” comes to mind? Might as well have a few. It is something to do and I might feel better. 1

Disability and addiction

In the list of things that make seniors increasingly more prone to abuse alcohol or drugs was also illness and disability. That word disability also includes sensory loss. Drinking and drugging can be good short-term solutions to the depression and boredom that come with diminished ability to get out in the world and enjoy life due to vision loss.1,2

A toll on the body

The problem becomes short-term solutions can lead to long-term problems. Our older bodies are not as adept at metabolizing alcohol or other chemicals as they once were. The college boy who was able to down a six-pack and still walk a straight line has become the older gent who is tipsy on half a beer. Tipsy is a great word to use here. With our questionable sight and balance, half a beer might have us tipsying right into a hospital bed!

Drug and alcohol abuse can be insidious. The shot to help us sleep and the glass of wine with dinner can become two or three or four very quickly when we are down and lonely. The next thing you know, you are hiding the empties from your kids or your sister and wondering why you feel so rotten.

Am I drinking too much?

The article suggested a good, fast test to decide if you are drinking too much. The word used to remember the four questions is CAGE.1

  • Have you ever felt you should CUT down on your drinking?
  • Have people ANNOYED you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt GUILTY about drinking?
  • Have you ever felt you needed a drink as an EYE OPENER to start your day?

It's okay to ask for help

If you have two affirmative answers among those, four questions, you could easily have a problem with alcohol use. If that is the case, ask your doctor or a therapist for help. Don’t be embarrassed. Solving your alcohol or drug problem can make things better. 2

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