Are there specific drug addiction treatments for older adults?

With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the work of the general population will expand dramatically with respect to the number of older adults. Such a change, together with a greater history of lifetime drug use, different cultural standards and general attitudes about drug use, and increases in the availability of psychotherapeutic medications, may lead to growth in the number of older adults with addiction problems. Although no drug treatment programs are yet designed exclusively for older adults, research to date shows that current addiction treatment programs can be as effective for older adults as they are for younger adults.

Are there treatments for people addicted to prescription drugs?

The non-medical use of prescription drugs increased dramatically in the 1990s and remains at high levels. Like many illegal drugs, these drugs change the brain’s activity and can lead to many harmful consequences, including addiction. Treatments for prescription drugs tend to be similar to those for illegal drugs that affect the same brain systems.

Can a person become addicted to psycho therapeutics that are prescribed by a doctor?

While this situation occurs rarely, it is possible. Because some psycho therapeutics have a risk of addiction associated with them, it is important for patients to follow their physician’s instructions faithfully and for physicians to monitor their patients carefully. To minimize these risks, a physician (or other prescribing health provider) should be aware of a patient’s previous or current substance abuse problems, as well as their family history with regard to addiction. This will help determine risk and need for monitoring.

Where do 12 step or self help programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

Self-help groups can balance and extend the effects of professional treatment. The most prominent self-help groups are those associated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA), all of which are based on the 12-step model. Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in self-help group therapy during and after formal treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, offering an added layer of community-level social support to help people achieve and maintain abstinence and other healthy lifestyle behaviors over the course of a lifetime.

Can exercise play a role in the treatment process?

Yes—exercise is increasingly becoming a component of many treatment programs and has shown effectiveness, in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy, for promoting smoking cessation. Exercise may apply positive effects by addressing psychosocial and physiological needs that nicotine replacement alone does not; weakens negative mood; reducing stress; and helping prevent weight gain following cessation. Research is currently under way to find if and how exercise programs can play a similar role in the treatment of other forms of drug abuse.

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