Holistic treatment methods may be very beneficial during the recovery of an elderly addict. Meditation and yoga not only improve the mind and body connection but also teach the concept of mindfulness.
By Jessica Walter
Addiction in seniors is on the increase, with as many as 2.5 million Americans engaging in some form of substance abuse. Alcohol and prescription drug abuse are most common, with 17 percent of the elderly abusing drugs such as benzodiazepines, a type of tranquilizer, according to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Nearly 50 percent of care home residents have alcohol-related problems, and many widowers over the age of 75 admit alcoholism.
But what are the causes behind such dramatic abuse?
Potential triggers for alcohol or drug abuse in seniors are loneliness, retirement, grief, financial problems, memory loss, depression and relocation to nursing homes. Signs of addiction to look out for are secretive drinking, a loss of interest in hobbies or activities, a habit of drinking with dinner, depression, memory loss and confusion, drinking despite warning labels on prescribed medication, and a change in personal appearance.
There are many age-specific treatment programs, and these are considered effective as they place the addicted individual among their peers, promoting a sense of comfort and relaxation. Treatment options include residential or outpatient therapy, medical detox, preventative education and support services.
One of the fastest growing treatment methods is meditation, and this can be particularly appropriate for seniors because it relieves stress and depression, creating a feeling of peace and tranquility. It is important to have adequate senior insurance in place when accessing treatment for addictive behavior.
Meditation is a reflective practice that can sharpen and focus the mind, allowing for great insight into one's problems, not only addiction. Through regular practice, it makes one happier and helps seniors to retain memory. It is said to be anti-aging and good at combating loneliness.
This spiritual activity can be harnessed by any senior suffering from addiction. The mindfulness aspect of meditation allows for more attention to be given to harmful thoughts in the addiction process, and this awareness may limit the thoughts being put into the action of substance abuse. By observing one’s thoughts in detail, one can remove the power of them through release. A daily meditation practice is key on the road to addiction recovery.
Before setting out on this quest, it is vital that you consult your doctor or other mental health professional to ascertain any potential risk factors and the suitability of the treatment.
Meditation is a powerful tool in treating substance abuse and can be done alone or in groups, at home, using instructional DVDs or YouTube, or in your local community center.
Jessica Walter is a freelance health and nutrition writer.