Specialized treatment programs for senior citizens

Are There Specialized Treatment Programs for Senior Citizens?

Addiction is not just something which affects young people. Older individuals can be affected as well but is a topic which is discussed much less than the impact it has younger counterparts. Learn more about how addiction affects senior citizens and what treatment programs exist to support recovery.

Seniors and Addiction

Some seniors struggle with drugs or alcohol throughout life while some may have used substances on and off only to find addiction begins in the later years. Late onset substance abuse in seniors typically begins with major life changes including retirement, loss of a spouse or medical problems. Treatment approaches vary depending on the group of people but the elderly have special needs to care for with individualized methods being the best approach to help cope. The following services can be beneficial for seniors struggling with addiction:

  • Family participation and counseling
  • Mental health services
  • Medical services
  • Peer support groups
  • Payment assistance
  • Medicare


Senior drug addiction treatment is specialized which includes some important steps to consider. The following is a process that is followed to assist seniors in treatment.

Screening and assessment

Screening seniors for addiction helps mental health professionals understand the extent of the person’s addiction. Any mental health issues (depression, Alzheimer’s) can contribute to substance abuse which is addressed in the screening process.


Elderly individuals should detox under medical supervision to avoid any dangerous risks which enable medical professionals to help relieve withdrawal symptoms and administer emergency care when and if it is needed.

Psychological Treatment

Individual and group therapy provide opportunities for seniors to receive support in dealing with the underlying causes of addiction. Stress and pain management techniques will be taught which may be helpful during treatment and in recovery.


After a program is completed, seniors should continue individual therapy on an outpatient basis. Self-help group therapy meetings can also be helpful. Some seniors need help transitioning back into society but generally do better with family and friends nearby rather than in transitional living spaces.

Treatment Barriers

Elderly individuals and families may experience some obstacles to participation in senior addiction treatment. Some barriers may include:

  • Limited medical coverage
  • Financial issues
  • Health problems
  • Mobility issues
  • Inability to find suitable treatment
  • Personal feelings about treatment

Seeking Help

Many individuals may hesitate to seek treatment for addiction based on many reasons. A senior individual may not want to be seen as a burden or may not want others to form a negative opinion of the situation. Seniors who struggle should not hesitate to ask for help as a number of places exist for support. Loved ones can be willing to help seniors find support services which can lessen the burden of finding treatment and programs to help a senior recover from addiction.

Seniors deserve to live with dignity and hope for a better future, free of alcohol or drugs. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call The Villa to find out how we can support you on the journey to recovery.