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Getting Sober in Your Senior Years: 6 Ways It’s Different

A junior in college, John admits he spent the first three years of his education learning how to drink. He’s come to terms with his alcohol misuse and is taking the next steps to stop drinking. A junior executive, Jim is nearing retirement. He admits spending most of his career “inside a bottle” and, like John, has come to terms with his alcohol misuse and is working toward recovery. Entering recovery in his senior years, Jim faces unique challenges that John will not. But he may also have a few advantages. Read on to learn six ways recovery in your senior years is different and how to find senior addiction treatment if you are struggling.

1. Your Habits Are More Ingrained

They say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While this isn’t actually true, change often gets harder as we age. Our habits are more ingrained. Our routines are set. We have years of tradition backing each action, giving it more weight. It makes the tide harder to turn. If Jim has relied on drinking as a way to deal with stressors through every stage of his life up to this point, it might be more difficult to develop new habits. Stuck in decades-long patterns, it’s harder for Jim to quit drinking.

2. You Have More Responsibilities

Attending addiction treatment and support group meetings might be more difficult for older people like Jim. Compared to John, his list of responsibilities is long. Work duties, mortgage payments, and being a husband, father, and grandfather complicate things.

3. Your Social Settings Are More Stable

In our early years, it’s common for our environments to change. Friendships fade, jobs change, and families are still being established. By the time we retire, our social settings are typically more stable. Jim has likely been drinking with the same friends or family members for years, which can make it more challenging to break off those relationships to stay sober.

4. You Have an “I’ve Made it This Far” Mentality

Jim has been drinking for decades, yet no tragedy has disrupted his life. Sure, there have been consequences, but he’s still alive and kicking. He’s managed to muddle through. This can make motivation to change later in life difficult to muster. “It’s just part of my life and always has been. Why change now?”

5. You’re Wiser

They say wisdom accompanies age. Not always, but often. We at least know ourselves and our environments better. We better understand what makes us tick, what sets us off, what tempts us, and what our limitations are. How often do we wish we could tell our younger selves a nugget of wisdom we’ve mined in our later years? The knowledge we have gained can help us set the boundaries we need to stay sober. Jim’s extra years may offer more wisdom than John’s shorter life experience.

6. You Don’t Miss the Party Scene

At Jim’s stage of life, “FOMO,” or the fear of missing out, is less of a factor. After years of drinking, Jim is not too worried about missing the party scene. He’s been there, done that, and then some. Like Jim, when we choose recovery later in life, we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything great. We can walk away from that life knowing what it has to offer.

Senior Addiction Treatment

If you’re a senior struggling with drug or alcohol misuse, help is available. Addiction is treatable and several types of rehab for seniors can help you stop using substances and live a happier, healthier life. Treatment may start with a period of medical detox to help rid the body of substances as comfortably and safely as possible. Following detox, inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab can help address the underlying causes of addiction. Many facilities offer specialized rehab for elderly individuals. These rehab programs are designed with this population in mind and prioritize their unique needs.

Paying for Alcohol and Drug Rehab for Seniors

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates insurance plans provided in the Marketplace provide coverage for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, which means you can use your insurance to cover the cost of treatment. American Addiction Centers facilities are in-network with many insurance providers and Medicare. To find out what your insurance plan covers, call your provider and ask for specific coverage information. You can also verify your insurance in just minutes online.

If you don’t have insurance, you can ask treatment facilities about grants, loans, and sliding scales.

Find Addiction Rehab for Seniors Near Me

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, there are several ways to find senior addiction treatment near you. You can start by talking to your doctor or a mental health practitioner and asking for referrals. You can also use our rehab directory, which allows you to search for rehabs and filter by insurance accepted, location, and type of care. If you need help or have questions about treatment, contact a caring and compassionate admissions navigator at . It’s confidential and free, and there is no obligation to enter treatment.

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