Senior Suicide and Drug Abuse
Drug abuse occurs among seniors for a variety of reasons. Drug abuse and addiction can amplify feelings of depression that are common among seniors, and this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair that may result in suicide. Chronic, lasting depression in a senior citizen should be taken as a sign that he or she may need professional counseling. Threats of suicide should be taken seriously and should never be ignored. Even seemingly offhand or joking remarks about suicide such as, “Maybe I’ll just end it all” or, “They should just put me out of my misery” may be indicative of serious depression and a risk for suicide. Never ignore these types of remarks. Seek professional advice immediately, as it may be a matter of life or death.
Reasons for Drug Abuse and Suicide among Seniors
Depression is often a trigger for drug abuse and is common among seniors. The following may contribute to depression and drug abuse issues:
- Loneliness and separation from loved ones
- The death of a spouse
- The deaths of close friends
- Idleness and feelings of uselessness due to retirement
- Health problems or serious illness
- Reduced mobility
- Loss of driving privileges
Seniors may also be continuing a lifetime habit of drug or alcohol abuse. A person with a habit of regular alcohol consumption is likely to drink alcohol to cope with the stress and loneliness of aging. Use of illicit drugs used to be regarded as the domain of the young, but the baby boom generation that was notorious for recreational drug use is now in its golden years, and seniors who continue to use marijuana or other illicit drugs are not uncommon. Seniors may also become dependent on prescription medications to ease both physical and emotional pain and may unwittingly combine drugs in dangerous ways or take them with alcohol. Just as depression often leads to drug abuse, drug abuse and addiction often cause or exacerbate depression. The result can be a continuous downward spiral that ends in suicide.
Treatment for Depression, Drug Abuse and Addiction
Professional treatment for addiction and any co-occurring issues such as depression can help seniors escape from this vicious cycle. Recovery from addiction will help to ease the symptoms of depression, while treatment for depression will help the patient to deal with the issues that underlie the addiction. The person will then have a much better chance of coping with the issues of aging without resorting to drug or alcohol abuse and will find that retirement and advancing years do not mean the end of living and that he or she can still get a great deal of pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction out of life.
Need Help Finding Treatment for Addiction and Depression?
Untreated depression and addiction can lead to suicide. If you are a senior struggling with depression and addiction and would like help finding treatment or if you know a senior that may be in need of professional help, call us. Our helpline is toll free, and we are available 24 hours a day.