Senior Substance Addiction

For many people, the idea of south Florida detox is a place where young ‘goons’ go when they’ve been bad, that Broward County drug rehab is only a place for wayward kids with no parents and discipline. Unfortunately, statistics and measurements exist and they are in the process of painting a completely different picture. Addiction doesn’t care about a person’s age, sex, location or any other arbitrary personal attributes. Religious or atheist, productive or slothy, it actually plays absolutely no role in whether a person can develop substance use disorder.

That said, it should also be both surprising and of no surprise at the same time that the increase of addiction in people age 60 and older has jumped by six-hundred percent in the last ten years. In 2007, there were around 582 recorded addictions to some kind of painkiller in seniors. In 2018, that number is an astounding 2,520 and shows very little signs of slowing down. Many experts believe this is a ‘tip of the iceberg’ moment and that the actual numbers of seniors addicted to some kind of opioid prescription may be far higher.

One reason for this could be a generational understanding of addiction that contradicts the more modern perception of it. For decades upon decades, any kind of addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, was socially believed to be an individual’s shortcomings, an indicator of morals (or lack thereof) and general absence of discipline. Someone with an addiction, even in psychological fields, which have come a long way since the 50’s, used to be considered clinically ‘psychotic’. Then using these primitive and mostly wrong ideas of addiction and drug use, the US Government created the policy called the War On Drugs, which furthered these views by literally criminalizing those who might be suffering from addiction, making no distinction between user and seller; they were equally terrible in the eyes of the law.

Since then, medical research and psychological research has learned an enormous amount about the mechanics and fundamental nature of addiction and drug use which completely contradicts how the country has traditionally treated the condition, often ostracizing and passing harsh social criticism on those suffering. This could be contributing to the belief experts have that the number of seniors checking into treatment centers could be just a drop in the bucket compared to the actual number of seniors who are silently fighting their substance use disorder.

Even today, it’s estimated that there are over two million Americans, young and old, who show signs of substance use disorders who go untreated for their addiction. Stigma only plays a small part in this scenario today with the real hurdle for people affected is often related to access to mental and physical health care. The stigma still exists, but for those who understand addiction to be an illness, finding treatment is still an exercise in futility for many.

No matter your background or age, substance use disorder needs professional treatment by south Florida rehab centers like First Step Behavioral Health.  Call (866) 319-6126 for treatment options today.

Environment and Relapse

For people going through a south Florida drug rehab, they will no doubt hear at some point that two thirds of people who successfully finish treatment will relapse within the first year and may even find those numbers discouraging. However, centers that offer substance abuse treatment in Florida are also aware of this statistic and understand that gaining control over a substance use disorder is not always an easy task, nor is it a quick task. It’s not a one-size-fits-all process when treating patients seeking help and it’s important to not see relapse as a complete failure of treatment, but a sign that more must be done.

Relapses are often triggered by environmental factors. These can be everything from social surroundings to physical surroundings to a mixture of both. They can also come from unlikely places, even as bizarre as seeing a television commercial at a certain time of day. It really depends on the person how these environmental factors play out, which makes it difficult to get ‘right’ in treatment on the first try, especially for obscure environmental ‘triggers’.

It’s well known that environment is highly influential in addiction. Multiple studies by multiple universities and research groups using cocaine and mice have proven that learned behavior in association with addiction is a strong link that can create higher levels of risk of relapse if left unchecked. When a person is developing a substance use disorder, memories play a strong role in how that addiction is registered within the neurobiology of the brain, which changes on each use and is also linked with non-chemical addictions that have also become notable recently such as internet and social media addictions. The environment, when combined with memory and reward structures which can vary wildly but often times are associated with substance use, instill an almost ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ response. Pavlov’s dog experiment involved feeding a dog a treat after ringing a bell. Eventually, the treat was removed and when the bell was rung, the dog would salivate, even after a long time from the treat being removed from the situation.

To an addict in recovery, a similar kind of ‘mental salivation’ or ‘itch to use’ can be triggered in this same way, but without any intentional effort by the person themselves or even others around them. It is often why relapses occur in the first place; someone is taken off guard by something that seems completely innocuous. However, it must be understood that this relapse is not necessarily a failure, but a learning moment for the patient in the right frame of mind to recognize the event, even if they succumb to it. Addressing the environmental factors will strengthen their ability to control their substance use disorder over time. While it might feel like a setback, if the patient is still willing to beat their addiction, there’s much to learn from these moments that will ensure future success in their battle.

Addiction is a chronic illness that affects more than two million Americans and most go untreated. If you or someone you know could be suffering from addiction, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for professional drug rehab in Ft. Lauderdale.