Addiction in the Retirement

Addiction In The Retirement Community

Addiction In The Retirement Community

While many may have a picture of alcohol misuse being primarily an issue with the young and (seemingly) carefree, problems with alcohol addiction in the retirement community are popping up all over the country as a somewhat silent epidemic. A study [1] found that over a third of drinkers who were 60-years-old or older consumed alcohol amounts that were excessive and potentially harmful. Alcohol misuse is not exclusive to any specific age demographic. It’s important to understand the value of alcohol use disorder treatment for those considered to be the retirement generation.

Addiction Retirement Community Acceptance: What Are You Drinking?

Though it’s considered to be more socially acceptable (and even fashionable) to drink, alcohol is still a drug. Because seniors of the retirement community are often thought to be wiser and more mature with life’s experiences, in retirement, they may find themselves in different positions they’re not used to. They may turn to alcohol as a way to cope and may need to seek out alcohol use disorder treatment programs.

Those in retirement communities tend to have more free time and resources available to them than they did when they were part of the workforce. They often look for new relationships and activities in their communities so they can maintain friendships and quality of life. And, it’s crucial for this to happen so that the depression that can come with a new, sometimes isolating stage of life doesn’t occur.

But in efforts to appeal to retirees, planned communities often highlight their ‘youthful’ activity options, and specifically, their ‘social gathering,’ opportunities. More and more communities feature bars and restaurants for such social gatherings, and ‘getting together with neighbors’ and socially drinking is an accepted and almost expected practice to fit in and belong.

And that’s how addiction in the retirement community started to be more prevalent.

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Why The Retirement Community Is So Vulnerable to Addiction

The research [2] is minimal but growing. As we recognize the vulnerability of the senior population when it comes to alcohol dependence, studies [3] regularly show the increase of alcohol use in adults who are over the age of 50. Many surveyed self-report binge alcohol use and the number of those who suffer from alcohol use disorder have continued to increase significantly.

Policymakers believe these results indicate issues on several levels that need to be addressed. The most obvious issue is that retired adults are no longer typically part of any workforce, and that may bring with it depression and a need to fill their time with ‘something.’

Additionally, retired adults often find themselves in situations that tax their physical and mental well-being, and as they age, they find they can’t do the things they used to do. The challenges that come with growing older can lead them to turn to alcohol, which only exacerbates their problems.

Caroline Ridout Steward was a Clinical Instructor and Psychotherapist with the University of California San Diego Department of Psychiatry for over 20 years before she retired. She [4] says addiction in the retirement community is an issue because retirees often suffer the loss of regular activity or ‘healthy distraction,’ in life. She adds that the loss of a core identity paired with that ‘healthy distraction’ of work/regular activities and social isolation often end up being the perfect storm for substance abuse in that population. And because the retired generation is used to ‘bucking up,’ and pulling through, they often don’t seek alcohol use disorder treatment because of the shame involved with admitting there is a problem.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Is Key

But there are serious repercussions that can come to the retired community. Because alcohol is a drug, alcohol use and misuse can lead to liver failure, dementia, and other mental health issues. Alcohol use disorder is potentially a fatal disorder, and because alcohol can affect seniors more strongly than it does younger people [5], it’s especially important one seeks alcohol use disorder treatment programs like Desert Cove Recovery offers. Too often in the retirement community, social acceptance can lead to problems that sometimes are overlooked because they exist co-morbidly with issues that occur as people get older. That’s where Desert Cove Recovery steps in and looks at an individual to customize an alcohol use disorder treatment program that meets their needs and retired lifestyle.

The experienced and compassionate staff of Desert Cove Recovery want you to regain control of your life. The first step is to become part of a holistic alcohol use disorder treatment program that’s tailored for you, and that gives you skills for sobriety and retirement that you always dreamed of. Make the call today.