Substance Abuse Counseling for Seniors

Is Drug Or Alcohol Abuse Or Dependency Affecting Relationships And Your Quality Of Life?

Are you struggling with a long-term addiction, abusing alcohol or drugs to cope with life transition issues, or have a newly formed addiction to potent prescription medications? Have friends, family members or caregivers expressed concerns about your use and encouraged you to seek help? Has limited mobility, physical pain, end-of-life issues or health complications caused you to feel depressed, anxious or to withdraw from the people and places that you love? Are you struggling to work through feelings of grief caused by the passing or friends and/or a declining ability to easily perform daily tasks and engage in the activities you once enjoyed? Do you wish that you could feel better emotionally and physically, and regain some control over your life?

Living with a substance abuse problem, regardless of whether it’s been something you’ve been battling for years or has recently developed, can be an isolating, destructive and troubling experience. As people age, the body is slower to recover from illness and injury, and the substances that are used to mitigate both emotional and physical pain take a greater toll. Emotional issues, such as grief, depression and anxiety affect many seniors as they transition into their elder years. Physical and medical conditions also begin to develop and become increasingly complicated and limiting. In order to cope with physical and emotional pain, alcohol and prescription medication use may increase. While an occasional drink can help you relax and medications can have a useful role in pain mitigation, these powerful substances can create serious mental, emotional and physical problems when abused or not managed properly.

It’s Not Uncommon For Seniors to Struggle With Long-term Or Short-term Substance Abuse Issues

Many seniors with substance abuse problems have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction for many years. These long-term users may have been on and off the wagon throughout their lives, tried treatment in the past, or have successfully kept their use hidden until recently. Their use may also have become more problematic recently as tolerance decreases and withdrawal symptoms increase with age. Many seniors also begin to increase use to cope with difficult emotions, such as end-of-life issues or grief.

Even more commonly abused by this age group are prescription medications. Oftentimes, these potent medications and their potential side effects are not properly explained to patients. Unless properly managed, abuse of and addiction to certain medications, including sleeping aids, can develop. Oftentimes, it is not until something serious occurs that family members become aware that a problem exists.

If you or an elder you care about is struggling with substance abuse issues, has begun withdrawing from family and friends, is passing out or experiencing other physical reactions to a substance, getting help may be critical.

BPS Can Provide You With Support, Resources And a Safe Environment to Address Difficult Issues

If you are a long-term drug or alcohol user, it is not too late to get help and make meaningful changes that can significantly improve your quality of life. Your experienced and trained BPS therapist can provide you with education, resources and the most useful and practical options for therapy and treatment. Your therapist can also offer you a nonjudgmental and confidential space to work through difficult emotions and offer support as you begin making significant lifestyle changes. You can address the short and long-term effects of your use, explore how to draw from your strengths and support systems, and learn healthier ways to cope with sadness and stress.

If you have recently become addicted to prescription drugs or begun using alcohol to self-medicate, therapy can be an extremely effective way to get your life, health, and wellbeing back on track. Your BPS therapist can help you identify and address the problem. If prescription medication use has become problematic, a support system can be created to help you more effectively engage with doctors and better regulate medication intake. If you have begun to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs, your BPS therapist can help you clarify what, how much, and why you are using. You can explore the feelings and issues that you’re struggling to cope with and develop healthier and more effective ways to manage sadness, anxiety, and other difficult emotions.

BPS also offers therapy to help family members. If an elder you love is suffering from addiction, a BPS family therapist can help you learn effective coping strategies, accept that you have little control over another’s behaviors, and that while you can offer love and support, it is ultimately up to the user to make changes. Your therapist can also help you identify and address any co-dependency issues and feelings of guilt, shame or helplessness that loving an addict can create.

But, you still may have questions or concerns…

I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m on a fixed income and concerned about costs.

This is your life and wellbeing. Addressing substance abuse issues and/or getting help with prescription drug management can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Treatment, therapy, or help with medication management can not only help you feel better sooner, but these services can also provide long-term relief for you, as well as the people who love you and value your health and wellbeing.

Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with seniors with substance abuse issues or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with seniors suffering from substance abuse issues and whose personality is a good match for yours. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.

If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.

I’m only considering therapy because someone in my life is making me. I really don’t have a problem.

Denial is the hallmark of any addiction. It allows users to remain reactionary rather than thoughtful. That said, you might not have a problem. But, there is obviously something in your behavior around a substance that is causing someone who cares about you to voice these concerns.

We can conduct a referral assessment to help determine if a problem does exist. If it does, dealing with it now can have a powerful and positive impact on your quality of life currently and into the future. Learning what triggers you to use and developing healthy coping mechanisms can prevent relationship difficulties and other problems in your life from worsening.

As an adult child of a parent with a substance abuse problem, I feel guilty, frustrated and at a loss about how to help – especially because my parent insists that there is no problem and refuses to try therapy.

Watching someone you love harm themselves through excessive drug or alcohol use can be a frustrating, scary and helpless experience. Family therapy can help you and other affected family members identify, explore and address the difficult emotions and co-dependent behaviors that often occur for people who love someone with a substance abuse problem. In therapy, you can learn that you cannot be responsible for or change anyone’s behavior except your own. The best thing to do is to take care of yourself and try to find expert resources to help them. If the problem is severe and you are concerned about their physical safety, third party intervention may be necessary. Your BPS family therapist can help you to determine that, involve the appropriate resources, and then deal with the anger that intervention may create.

We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.

You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise treating seniors with substance abuse issues.

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