Drug or Alcohol Rehab for Seniors in Las Vegas, NV
Anybody who takes illicit drugs, drinks alcohol, or is prescribed certain prescription medications is potentially vulnerable to addiction. And as we age, we may experience social and physical changes that may increase our vulnerability to substance misuse. As we age, the body begins to change, health concerns may become a larger factor in our daily lives, and we often experience reductions in our social network as well as social functioning.2,3 These changes may increase the vulnerability of older adults to substance misuse.10
Substance misuse is an increasing problem among older adults. Rates of co-occurring disorders as well as illicit drug use are rising among older adults.3 Heavy drinking in particular can lead to negative health outcomes, and is common in Nevada adults over the age of 55.2 Older adults with substance use disorders are more likely to misuse alcohol when compared to other substances.3
Luckily, there is help available. Specialized rehab programs can help older adults struggling with substance abuse find a path to recovery. Approximately 34 of the 106 substance abuse treatment facilities in the state of Nevada offered specialized rehab for older adults and older adults.1 Understanding the needs of older adults struggling with addiction, how specialized rehab programs can help, and how to find these facilities can help you begin your journey to recovery.
Effects of Drugs and Alcohol in Older Adults
Drugs and alcohol affect older adults in different ways compared to younger adults. This is largely due to the aging process which is associated with physiological and mental changes.3 A lower amount of body fat and a slower metabolism, two hallmark signs of aging, can leave older adults vulnerable to adverse effects from alcohol and drugs.3 Additionally, older adults may also be at increased risk of falls or serious injuries because of substance abuse.10
Many older adults in the United States take prescription or over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal remedies, that can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol (medically they are known as “alcohol-interactive” (AI) drugs).3 Medications like Aspirin, acetaminophen, sleeping pills, cough syrup, cold medication, pain medication, and medication for anxiety or depression can all lead to negative interactions when taken with alcohol.11 Older adults taking these medications for medical conditions may drink without knowing the risk of potential negative reactions.11
Older adults who experience chronic pain may be prescribed opioid painkillers, which have a high potential for abuse.3, 10 Studies show that while the population of older adults increased by 6% between 2013 and 2015, the amount of older adults seeking treatment for opioid use increased by nearly 54%.10 Further, the combination of opioids with other medications, like benzodiazepines, can lead to serious and sometimes fatal reactions.3
Risk Factors for Addiction in the Elderly
Additionally, there are major life changes or age-related changes in physical and social functioning that can contribute to older adults being at increased risk for substance use problems. These risk factors include:3
- Retirement (particularly when not voluntary).
- Loss of loved ones.
- Transitions to new living environments (assisted living).
- Physical health issues (chronic pain, high blood pressure, sleep issues).
- Co-occurring mental health issues.
- Cognitive decline.
- Social isolation.
- Financial stressors (living on a fixed income, loss of income).
Older Adults and Co-Occurring Disorders
Older adults may also struggle with co-occurring health disorders, and may benefit from integrated dual diagnosis treatment.3 Estimate suggest that roughly 1.5 million Americans aged 50 and older had a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder in the past year.3 Co-occurring disorders in older adults can be particularly damaging, as they can lead to an increased risk of negative outcomes like homelessness and suicidal thoughts.3 Older adults who have a diagnosis for a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder may benefit from dual diagnosis and specialized substance abuse treatment.
Specialized Addiction Treatment for Seniors
While older adults face unique challenges in regard to substance abuse, there are specialized treatment programs available to help. Age-specific programs for older adults can lead to improved treatment experience and may better support abstinence, leading to positive health outcomes.3 This is largely because age-specific programs tailor their methods and content specifically for the needs of an older population. Group therapies often take place with other older adults, which may provide a greater level of comfort when discussing problems related to substance abuse and aging.3 Topics addressed during treatment may also be specialized toward older adults, focusing on topics such as grief, loss, health, quality of life, and other stressful experiences associated with aging.3
Age-specific rehab programs may also offer various types of medical or other physical support that may not be available in regular rehab programs. Accommodations for vision, hearing, and various other cognitive or mobility impairments may be offered at senior rehabs.3 Physical fitness and wellness activities designed specifically for older adults and older adults may also be offered. Additionally, many older adults may also be members of groups that benefit from specialized addiction treatment. Those enrolled in an age-specific rehab program while also being a veteran, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, or a man may benefit from other specialized treatment tracks.3
How Does Rehab for Seniors Work?
If you’re a senior who has decided to seek treatment for substance abuse, the first step will be determining what your individual needs are, which will also take into consideration other chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions. This is often done as an initial assessment at the facility, where a clinical team will assess the severity of your substance abuse, get an understanding of your physical and mental health history, and craft a treatment plan. They may also determine your eligibility for age-specific rehab and what level of physical support you will need.
The next step will be to determine which treatment setting you’ll most likely benefit from. Medical detox is the process of removing substances from one’s body, and is a frequent first step when starting recovery. Intensive inpatient or residential treatment allows you to live at a facility 24/7 and receive medical supervision and support. For those who have already completed inpatient treatment or those who have a less severe substance use disorder, outpatient treatment may be more fitting. Outpatient treatment allows you to remain at home while still receiving substance abuse treatment.
Once your needs have been assessed and a treatment plan is in place, you can begin with age-specific treatment. While everyone’s treatment goals are different, there are some common therapy types used in treatment. These therapies may include:3
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of therapy for substance abuse. It involves uncovering the root causes of substance abuse and identifying triggers that lead to substance use, and then developing alternative, more healthy coping mechanisms. These techniques will help to prevent a return to substance use and are a big part of relapse prevention.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy can be beneficial for those struggling with the life changes that frequently accompany old age. This therapy seeks to help people come to terms with life changes and loss while encouraging a reconnection with life values.
- Motivational interviewing is a technique used by therapists to help you find the motivation for and commitment to change.
- Family therapy is led by a therapist works with you and your family to resolve issues that may lead you back to using substances as a coping mechanism. This also helps educate families on ways to support your recovery and your desire to stop drinking or misusing drugs.
- Medication management is another common aspect of age-specific rehab. Since older adults may be more likely to take prescription medications, they may benefit from medication management programs.
- Recovery management and other types of aftercare programs are often highly beneficial to older adults. Many older adults often struggle with finding social support and a sense of connectedness. Mutual help groups, family involvement programs, and other recovery management programs can help older adults stay connected in recovery.
How Do You Pay for Rehab?
Paying for rehab can be challenging. Your first step should be to contact your insurance provider. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans to provide some degree of coverage for mental and behavioral health disorders, including substance use disorder.5 While Older adults may choose to use private insurance, many will also have access to Medicare. A federally funded insurance program, Medicare may be able to help older individuals cover some or all of the cost for rehab services deemed “reasonable and necessary.”6 What is considered “reasonable and necessary” will largely depend on an assessment by your treatment team and a Medicare representative. Adults who are over the age of 65 and have been paying Medicare taxes for at least 10 years may be able eligible for Medicare.7
There are also facilities that may work with VA insurance, allowing older veterans to take advantage of the VA’s insurance and rehab facilities. The VA insurance plans, operated by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, offer coverage for medically necessary treatment for substance abuse at VA facilities and participating community care partners.8
Some Older adults who meet certain income requirements may also be eligible for Nevada Medicaid. Medicaid is a public health insurance program that is run by the states. Since each state has its own Medicaid program, eligibility requirements will likely vary. Nevada Medicaid’s eligibility guidelines are based primarily on one’s yearly income level:9
- $17,131 for individuals
- $23,169 for a family of 2
- $29,207 for a family of 3
- $35,245 for a family of 4
- $41,284 for a family of 5
- $47,322 for a family of 6
- $53,360 for a family of 7
- $59,398 for a family of 8
Nevada also has guidelines for families with more than eight people. For each additional person, $6,038 should be added to the guidelines.9 If you’re curious about determining whether you qualify for Nevada Medicaid, consider contacting the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
How to Find Rehab Centers for the Elderly in Las Vegas, NV
Finding treatment that’s tailored for older adults doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you’ve decided to seek help, a good first stop would be to see a trusted doctor or medical professional. They may be able to work with you to determine your rehab goals and needs, and may be able to refer you to treatment facilities in Nevada. Another important step would be to contact your insurance to check your coverage. Whether you have private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other plan, it’s important to confirm that you’re covered for substance abuse treatment.
If you’re looking for treatment in a specific area, such as Las Vegas, you may want to consider visiting a treatment locator. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates a treatment locator that can help you find senior rehab in Nevada. You may also consider reaching out to an addiction helpline. Addiction helplines, like the one American Addiction Centers operates, are staffed 24/7 and can answer questions you may have about the rehab process. They may also be able to direct you to Nevada facilities that offer rehab for older adults.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS).
- Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division. (2021). Elders count Nevada.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Treating substance use disorder in older adults.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Older Adults and Mental Health.
- Healthcare.gov. Mental health and substance abuse health coverage options.
- Department of Health and Human Services. (2019). Medicare coverage of substance abuse services.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Who is Eligible for Medicare?
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 26). Substance use treatment for Veterans.
- Benefits.gov. (n.d.). Nevada Medicaid.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, July). Substance Use in Older Adults DrugFacts.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Older Adults.