Anxiety and Depression Raises Addiction Among Older Americans

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the number of senior citizens who have used illegal drugs doubled between 2002 and 2007.

In 2009, the statistics showed that the use of non-medical prescription drugs increased almost two percent from 2002 to 2009. If this number continues upward we may have an addiction epidemic among our senior citizens here in America.

According to Psych Central, the top causes of alcohol and drug abuse were anxiety and depression as cited in a survey done by a treatment and recovery center for alcohol and drugs called the Hanley Center. Furthermore, the respondents also cited financial and economic stress as well as retirement to be contributing factors.

Nearly half of all respondents said their choice substance is alcohol and prescription drugs.

The survey showed the following statistics:

  • 40 percent of participants considered themselves substance abusers after age 48
  • Over 90 percent named alcohol as a substance they abused
  • Almost 50 percent cited prescription drug abuse
  • Over 40 percent of respondents said family members influenced them to get treatment

Medical Director for the Hanley Center, Dr. Barbara Krantz says older Americans face distinct challenges as they head into their golden years as it is a transitional period in their life. Krantz adds that this period is unique and causes difficulty with coping with stressful situations like early retirement and financial strains which may lead to depression and serious anxiety.

Older adults might turn to such quick fixes as alcohol or drugs if they don’t have the tools to handle their emotions and this can create the perfect situation for dependency.

Krantz says we’ve made tremendous strides with intervention among young people but we continue to see increases among baby boomers and with seniors entering treatment programs.