Elderly alcoholism, which was reported to have reached epidemic levels in the United States, is "underestimated, under identified, underdiagnosed, and undertreated," the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.(NCADD) said in a fact sheet examining the trend.
"The real issue - alcoholism or alcohol dependency - is overlooked and not treated properly and effectively," NCADD stated on its website. NCADD added that along with drug problems, alcoholism "is something few want to talk about, deal with, even treat."
The Geriatric Education Center of Michigan at Michigan State University states that elderly persons are vulnerable to alcohol addiction because of their declining physical state. Older adults have lower tolerance to alcohol and because their body holds less water than when they were younger, they feel the negative effects of alcohol more quickly and longer.
According to NCADD's fact sheet, six to 11 percent of seniors admitted to hospitals exhibited signs of alcohol abuse. Additionally, 20 percent of the patients treated by mental health providers were found to be alcoholic, while 14 percent of seniors admitted by emergency rooms showed alcohol abuse symptoms.
Utilizing other research, the Council also revealed that alcohol abuse rates in nursing homes are as high as 49 percent. In 80 percent of all hospital admissions among older adults, alcohol was also found to be the primary drug of choice.
NCADD cited several reasons why the issue is inadequately explored.
Healthcare providers often face challenges in diagnosing symptoms of alcohol abuse in seniors because they present similarly to symptoms for behavioral disorders such as dementia and depression.
The same is true for opioid use, which coincided with alcoholism in older adults. Four out of five adults engaged in alcohol drinking also have substance abuse problems, according to NCADD. Addiction specialists expect seniors' opioid abuse to double by 2020 to 3.5million, data from NCADD showed.
"Memory loss, disorientation, shaky hands, mood swings, depression and chronic boredom are often normal to the aging process," explains an article on The Colorado Springs Independent. "These behaviors can, though, signal something less benign. Grandma or Grandpa may have a substance abuse problem," the article added.
NCADD said seniors themselves have a tendency to hide their alcohol misuse than seek treatment. Family members of seniors especially their children are not accepting of their condition, NCADD said.
An article on the Recovery Corps website states that The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse recommends seniors aged 65 years and above to stick to one serving of alcoholic drink per day. It suggested that seniors should limit their alcohol intake to 1.5 oz of hard liquor, 12 oz of beer and 5 oz of wine. This standard of measure was based on data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
BioCorRx, Inc. (OTC: BICX), a healthcare company offering addiction rehabilitation treatments through its Start Fresh Program, may be able to help with this problem with seniors. Brady Grainer, COO of BioCorRx, Inc., said excessive drinking among seniors can be reduced if care givers do a better job of identifying and addressing the problem early on. "I think human tendency is to take it less seriously when someone elderly appears to have a substance abuse problem. We need to change that" said Mr. Granier.
Seniors across the United States, as a matter of fact, can benefit from BioCorRx, Inc'sStart Fresh Program, which uses a highly effective, biodegradable implant formulation of Naltrexone, an opioid and alcohol antagonist that effectively curbs senior patients' cravings. The implant slowly releases Naltrexone into the bloodstream and is inserted under the skin of the patient's lower abdomen through an outpatient procedure. The Start Fresh Program also uses coaching to help patients overcome alcohol addiction successfully.
The implant can eliminate the patients' need to take the daily oral pill form of Naltrexone, preventing them from missing doses that are crucial to their recovery. It is also a cost-effective way to save on rehabilitation costs.Health care costs related to alcohol and drug abuse among seniors are projected to reach $100 billion by 2018.