Older adults can be stubborn and set in their ways. If an older adult has been abusing a substance for a long period of time, this can make the situation all the more delicate. Unfortunately, addiction in older individuals can have much heavier consequences than those held by teenagers. From severe financial difficulties to alienation by friends, older adults can experience numerous difficulties, and it’s of the utmost importance to step in should you see a problem. No matter what you fear the individual’s addiction stage to be, it’s never too late to offer help. By pulling together a group of loved ones and a neutral professional, you can stage a drug or alcohol intervention that can free the individual from an addictive burden.
When you’ve decided it’s time to step in and stop the continued addiction, remember to not inform the individual. The addict shouldn’t know the intervention is going to occur. If he finds out, he’ll be more than ready to either run or counter every argument. With this in mind, gather together those who also love the individual and want to see him get better. Such a group forms the supportive team crucial to successful drug or alcohol interventions. Spend time planning with the group, writing out letters and note cards of specific things everyone wants to say. These should cover why the intervention is happening, specific facts that exhibit the individual’s destructive behavior and the emotional toll it has taken on everyone. Likewise, begin the process of finding a treatment center. Should the older adult agree to receive help, give him exact steps so as to make the process seem easier.
Approach your loved one when he’s relaxed. Because the issue is usually charged with negative emotions, it’s important to make sure his guard is down. This will ensure he actually listens to what everyone has to say versus immediately deflecting everything, as is common in drug or alcohol interventions. In non-confrontational, calm tones, have everyone read their note cards and letters. There should be absolutely no blame or shame directed towards the addict. This will only serve to further isolate the individual from the help he so desperately needs. Be sure to also include how his substance abuse has led to negative health, social and attitude changes. Then, present the treatment plan. Assure your loved one that everyone is there to help him heal.
Once your loved one heads off to a rehabilitation facility, it’s time to come up with a release plan. True healing doesn’t come with one stay at a substance abuse center. Instead, it’s an ongoing fight that will affect the addict for the rest of his life. Designate individuals close to your loved one as guardians. They’ll be tasked with altering daily routines to prevent relapse. They’ll also be readily available to help the individual back to the path of sobriety should a slip-up occur. During all of this, remind your loved one that there’s no shame in getting help. In fact, it’s something that’s making everyone very proud of him.
If you or an older loved one are falling into the dark depths of addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help now. Call our hotline at 800-447-9081. Remember, the longer you wait for help, the harder the road to recovery becomes.