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How Adult Children Can Protect Older Parents from Addiction

It may seem like just yesterday that your parents were protecting you from addiction, but now it’s your turn — you need to protect your parents from addiction. According to an article from, “Drug abuse among older Americans is on the rise.”

Making sure that your parents are healthy as they age has probably become one of your main priorities, but making sure that they don’t become addicted to their drugs is probably something you’ve never considered before.

1. Educate yourself

It is VITAL to educate yourself on senior addiction if you are trying to keep your parents at their healthiest. Older people being addicted to drugs is probably something you’ve never thought of, but it is a growing problem.

“By 2020, the number of older Americans needing treatment for a substance use disorder will have doubled,” says the article. “Just a few years ago, nearly five percent of adults over 50 were abusing drugs or alcohol.”

Why is this becoming so popular among older Americans?

  • Access to prescriptions — “Nearly one-third of prescriptions in the US are written to people over 50.”
  • Refilling prescriptions — your parent’s chances of becoming addicted to their prescriptions increase the more pills they are prescribed.
  • More social factors — being lonely, feeling “useless” after retiring, feeling socially isolated, losing a spouse, becoming depressed, etc.
  • They dont realize it — “Abuse of prescriptions by seniors is often unintentional.” 

2. Have conversations about drug abuse 

Just like they’ve had to talk to you about uncomfortable topics, now it’s your turn. Sit your parents down to let them know that you are serious. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Know the facts. Tell them that this isn’t a random thing; let them know how serious this epidemic is becoming in America.
  • Make them understand how drug abuse in older people happens.
  • Research the possible problems associated with drug abuse. Write them down, give them the list, and explain them.
  • Talk about their mental state and what they can do to improve it. Discuss different possible activities to participate in.

3. Help them manage their prescriptions

Older people tend to have many medications, and it may get confusing for them. “Your parents may end up making mistakes with doses and combinations,” says the article.

Start attending some of your parents’ doctors’ appointments with them to learn about their medications, doses, and when they should be taking them. Once you get the prescriptions, help to organize them. Also, make sure you are checking in on them to make sure they are taking all of their medications correctly.

4. Keep an eye out for odd behaviors

Whether a drug abuser is young or old, there are signs to watch out for. If you are concerned that your parents may become addicted to their medications, start to spend more time with them and analyze their behaviors. Some signs may include:

  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in appetite
  • Being confused
  • Anxiety or anxiousness
  • Irritable behaviors
  • Falling
  • Any other changes that you notice

By educating yourself, having conversations with your parents about drug abuse, helping them to manage their prescriptions, and monitoring them for certain behaviors, you can help protect your parents.

Even though drug abuse among the older population seems unlikely, it can happen without even realizing it. “You know your parents, and if anything changes that makes you uncomfortable, be suspicious,” says the article.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, help is available. For more information on addiction treatment and prevention, call Safe Prevention at 1-877-503-2608.