addicted seniors

Addicted Seniors: Talking to Your Parents About Treatment

Are You an Adult Child With an Addicted Parent?

Addicted seniors. It’s a real problem.

If your parents were ill, you’d do anything you needed to in order to help them. Unfortunately, when adult children begin to see their older parents sink into alcoholism or drug addiction, they often are unsure how to approach the situation. It’s difficult to see a 50- or 60-year old parent and come to the realization that they may be an alcoholic or addicted to pain medication; then, to find a way to talk to them about it without damaging the relationship can be very difficult.

Many might make excuses; My mother’s been drinking all her life. She’s much too old to change. This is actually not true. Of any age group, research has shown that older individuals have the highest recovery rate when they seek addiction treatment. A key factor in this in the involvement and concern of friend and family members.

But, dad doesn’t have anything else going on his life. Why deprive him of this one thing? You have to remember that alcohol is not a stimulant; it’s a depressant. Drinking isn’t keeping your dad happy. Instead, it’s causing depression, shame and misery. In addition, using alcohol or drugs can shorten his lifespan by causing certain diseases, such as diabetes, pancreatitis, ulcers and accelerate Alzheimers disease.

Drug Use in the Elderly

Prescription drugs are a big problem among the elderly, and opiates are regularly prescribed by doctors who simply want to help ease your parent’s aches and pains. They are highly addictive, however. In 2015, a study found that death rates cause by opioid overdose had increased the most among adults between the ages of 55 and 64. Prescriptions that turn the elderly into addicted seniors is the culprit. If you suspect your parent may be addicted to opioid (narcotic) prescription medication, seek a second or third opinion. You may also want to try a holistic doctor. They generally rely on natural remedies.

Opioid (narcotic) medication includes:

  • codeine
  • hydrocodone
  • hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR)
  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
  • oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)

Introductory Conversations With Addicted Seniors

Talking to your parents might seem difficult right now, but it’s an important part of helping them understand your concern for their alcoholism or drug use and make the first step toward addiction recovery.

These are introductory conversations that ultimately lead up to offering help finding a treatment program. The little conversations are like little “pre-interventions.” Be prepared. Your parent may react negatively. It is very likely they are already aware they are in bondage, but are longing to return to some point in time when their drinking was ok, because it hadn’t crossed the line yet. When we, as their children, have these conversations and verbalize the truth they already know, it can cause an upheaval of emotions as the parent has to face the fact (even if only in his or her own mind) that this has gone too far.

Often, after initial conversations, the drinking or drug use will get worse as the parent decides to block out the truth they must face. Don’t think any of this is your fault. It is just the process that many go through.

Finally, after many reaffirming conversations that “there is a problem,” you will come to the point where an intervention may be necessary. If you decide to call in a professional, Gracious Care Recovery Solutions has certified interventionists that can guide your family through the process. With the help of an interventionist, your parent can make the first step toward sobriety.

Addicted Seniors: What to Say – Guidelines

  • Avoid having this talk when your parent is drinking.

  • Be as loving and gentle as possible. You don’t need to be confrontational.

  • Focus on what’s happening now. Let him or her know how you feel now. Don’t bring up the pain of the past at this moment.

  • Be direct and specific. Present facts, not opinions. For instance, “I notice that you drink an entire case of beer before you go to bed every night,” instead of “You’re always drunk.”

  • Talk about the effect their drinking or drug use has had on others they care about, such you, their friends or their grandchildren. For example, “We don’t let you take your grandchild to the park because you drink during the day.”

After talking with your parent about the effects of their drug addiction or alcohol use, talk to them about recovery options. Explain to them that people of all ages enter addiction treatment and that it isn’t something to be afraid of or ashamed of. In fact, it’s brave. It means they are ready to change their lives. If you’re worried about what to say, consult with a Gracious Care Recovery Solutions intervention expert and get help today.