Research suggests that the most effective forms of addiction care tend to be the most customized. When the approaches used and the techniques incorporated tend to be sensitive to a patient’s specific attributes, patients tend to stay enrolled for longer periods of time, and they tend to stay sober as a result. Often, when discussing this kind of customization, providers delve into discussions of mental health, as co-occurring disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can complicate the recovery process for people with addictions. However, there are times when a person’s age is the factor that demands attention, as the therapeutic needs patients display can change dramatically with advancing age.
Addiction in Youth
Drug experimentation is a common part of adolescence, particularly for those teens that spend time with peers who also use and abuse drugs. Unfortunately, adolescence is a remarkably dangerous time in which to experiment, as the developing brain seems more susceptible to the damage addictive drugs can cause. As a result, teens who delve into drugs develop addictions quite rapidly, and they may not have the skills needed to amend their habits.
Often, providers choose to include the family in therapeutic interventions. Therapies that allow parents to understand their role in stopping the abuse, along with therapies that help teens to develop abstinence skills, can be quite helpful for young addicts. In a study of the issue in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, researchers found that family systems therapy like this was three times as effective in helping young addicts, when compared to group therapies for teen addicts.
Addiction in Adults
While family-based interventions might also be beneficial for young adults, or even for those in mid-life, individual therapies can also be quite effective for this age group. Targeted therapies might allow these patients to uncover:
- Prior sources of trauma
- Hidden forms of mental illness
- Destructive patterns set in childhood
- Poor coping skills
Adults might also benefit from group therapies, in which they work with other addicted people while a counselor supervises the sessions. The group format allows adults to spend time in the helper role, while also allowing them to accept assistance from knowing peers. For adults, this can be remarkably effective.
Addiction Late in Life
Seniors are often ignored, when it comes to addiction care, but they might also form unhealthy attachments to both licit and illicit substances. Talking with older adults about these issues can be awkward, but a study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry suggests that older adults attend their therapy sessions much more often, when compared to their younger counterparts. Studies like this seem to suggest that older adults want to conquer their addictions, but they might need a push from a doctor to get them on the right path. Those medical professionals that suggest interventions for their older patients might be allowing them to deal with advancing age without dealing with a concurrent addiction.
If you’d like to know more about how addiction care is tailored to meet the specific needs of a certain age group, or if you have questions about the care your patients might need, please call us. As Foundations Recovery Network experts, we’re qualified to help.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.