Addiction Treatment for Older Adults

Addiction respects no boundaries. It can affect people of any age, social status, gender, and ethnicity. Yet addiction treatment for older adults often gets swept under the rug in the public sphere as media outlets emphasize the effects of substance use disorders on adolescents and young adults.

Fortunately, treatment programs for older adults are just as effective as for other ages, and there’s no age limit on recovery.

How Does Substance Abuse Affect Older Adults?

While older adults typically experience substance use disorders at lower rates than younger individuals, the rates of substance abuse among people over age 50 are still shockingly high. Nearly 11 million people (or 9.3%) over 50 meet the criteria for a substance use disorder. The vast majority of this is due to excessive alcohol use, which can severely impact your physical health and longevity.

Older adults who misuse substances face serious physical consequences. Adult bodies are less efficient at processing toxins and substances than younger ones. Substance abuse among older adults can lead to many health complications, including:

  • Premature liver failure, also known as cirrhosis
  • Worsening of pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension
  • Depression or anxiety disorders
  • Early-onset dementia

Fortunately, many of these consequences can be treated or reversed with competent care. The best way to prevent these harmful consequences is to start attending a substance use treatment program and work towards achieving abstinence.

Causes of Substance Abuse and Addiction in Seniors

Several reasons contribute to the growing rates of substance abuse in seniors. Transitioning to retirement, increasing levels of loneliness, and growing financial concerns can all contribute to substance use disorder development.

Perhaps the single most significant cause of substance abuse in seniors is a loss of purpose or direction in life. Although many people live happy lives during “the golden years,” others can grow to feel listless after retiring and experiencing a decrease in family responsibility. With so much excess time and no essential obligations, many turn to drugs or alcohol to fill the time.

What Substances Are Commonly Abused by the Elderly?

The most common substance of abuse among the elderly is alcohol, and by quite a margin. Just 2.9% of people aged 50 or older abuse illicit drugs; in comparison, 7.1% meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. It’s common for people who have used alcohol in moderation for decades to develop an alcohol use disorder in their later years, usually due to excess time and decreasing responsibilities. But as levels of use climb, the likelihood of developing an addiction increases.

After alcohol, the next most common drug of abuse is prescription drugs. Statistically, this is more common in older women, though anyone can quickly find themselves addicted to medications prescribed by their physician.

Why Are Elderly Substance Abuse and Addiction Unrecognized and Underreported?

Addiction among older adults has been labeled the “silent epidemic.” The widespread focus on addiction and substance use recovery typically focuses on younger adults and glosses over the elderly. Friends and family may also misinterpret signs of addiction in older loved ones as signs of aging.

When older adults slip towards substance use disorders, ongoing health problems can mask their effects. Substance use disorder is often mischaracterized as dementia, slowing cognitive faculties, or the side effect of medications for other conditions. Without knowledge about the rate of substances being used, friends and family can dismiss the visible effects of addiction.

Older adults may also have fewer consequences from their addiction due to lessening responsibilities. Retired individuals don’t miss work, and older adults typically don’t have daily child-rearing responsibilities.

As a result, many of the characteristic signs of addiction interfering with responsibilities are simply missing with older adults. But just because substance use isn’t disrupting a person’s work or familial responsibilities doesn’t mean older adults with substance use issues don’t face problems with their health and well-being.

Explore the Older Adult Program at Supreme Wellness Recovery

At Supreme Wellness Recovery, we have a specialized program for older adults looking to find recovery. Our older adult program works by combining evidence-based practices, holistic mental healthcare, and a supportive peer network that older adults can actually relate to.

Treatment that puts young adults and older adults together and treats them identically is often ineffective, as these two populations have vastly different experiences and perspectives. Instead, we provide specialized services for each population, letting everyone find the peer group that works best for them. We also accept and are in-network with most insurance providers.

If you or a loved one is ready to start receiving care for a substance use disorder, Supreme Wellness Recovery is here to help. Located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, you can receive quality care for your substance use disorder close to home.


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Treat addictions together


A valuable source of support led by one or more psychologists and offering greater perspectives.

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Medication as a part of treatment


Medication-assisted treatments supplement existing behavioral health treatments for substance use disorders.

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Expressive tools & activities


Opportunities and experiences, like nature walks, meditation, and yoga, that open up new horizons for recovery.

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Easily accessible, highly effective


12-step programs help addicts and alcoholics achieve life-long sobriety by providing a spiritual connection and encouraging strong social support.

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Sensitive treatment solutions


Evidence-based curriculum designed to help individuals recover from the effects of trauma in their lives.

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Building stronger bonds


Maintaining and enhancing community connections through student assistance programs, workshops, presentations, and more.

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Youth support services


Structured intervention techniques provide adolescents with interpersonal skills necessary to be accepted in the workforce and community.

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Life-long wellness


Therapeutic services help client’s reduce cravings and focus on personal growth, restoring good health and promoting long-term success.

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Supreme Wellness is a diverse team of professionals committed to achieving positive client outcomes by delivering appropriate quality care in an ethical and compassionate manner. We look to treat the whole person by providing not only clinical treatment, but also life and job skills to invest in their own future.

Contact Us

603 Corporate Drive West
Langhorne, PA 19047

T: (215) 874-3636
F: (215) 910-4350

[email protected]