How Is Recovery Different for Older People?

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How Is Recovery Different for Older People?

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How Is Recovery Different for Older People?

There are alcoholics and drug addicts of all ages. The problem isn’t unique to one group, though some groups make up a larger percentage of the total. There are adolescents, college students, middle-aged people, and senior citizens who deal with sobriety and recovery. Each group faces unique challenges. A teen may have an easier time with alcohol sobriety than someone older because they aren’t able to buy alcohol. A middle-aged person may have an advantage because they have increased financial resources for treatment and a greater chance at stability in their home.

There isn’t a lot of time spent considering the ways getting sober is different for older people, specifically those in retirement and beyond. But, their recovery and sobriety is unique and deserves some attention, as people in this age group are typically overlooked.

Habits Are Ingrained

We all know the saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It refers to the difficulty older people have learning new things and making changes. As we age, we establish habits. Every year that we get older and maintain these habits cements them as a part of our life. This can mean changing them is a Herculean task. If a person has depended upon alcohol or drugs to get them through periods of emotional turmoil for the better part of their life, it will be harder to foster new behaviors. A decades-long pattern will make sobriety harder.

However, it can be done. It is important that the older addict get a lot of support and this depends upon people understanding that these changes are particularly difficult.

Responsibilities Are Hard to Manage

When you are in your later years, you may still have work duties, a mortgage, impending retirement, community obligations, and being a spouse, parent, and grandparent. Life can be complicated. This can make taking time for treatment or support group meeting fairly difficult. But, these are vital to recovery. You can click here for the best”  in the state.

Like understanding the hardship of changing habits, people in an older addict’s life need to understand and facilitate attendance at sober support activities. Family members and employers will certainly understand the need to go to a meeting and should be willing to help that happen.

It May Feel Like There Is No Reason to Change

The reason that the rock bottom concept is so popular is that addicts tend to argue everything is fine until things get really bad. And, in fairness, it can feel like they are managing right up until they aren’t. If a person has made it to their later years with an addiction, they may feel unmotivated to make changes. If there haven’t been any tragedy or health problems, why change? Even people who smoke use this reasoning. Once something is a part of a person’s life and they haven’t dealt with substantially negative consequences, it can be a challenge to pursue recovery and sobriety.

There Are Solid Environmental Cues

When a person is an addict, their brain latches onto the people, places, and paraphernalia attached to the euphoria of being high or drunk. When the person encounters these things again, it can be a cue that triggers the brain to want to abuse substances. Everyone faces them, but older addicts face the most stable ones. If a person has been drinking with family and friends for decades, it can feel impossible to cut those people out of his or her life. Before this point, people face more changes in jobs, friends, and families. By retirement age, these are set.

John Chambers is a father, grandfather, writer, and proud AA sponsor.  He has fifteen years of sobriety under his belt and he adds to it every day.


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