Why is addiction difficult to treat in older people?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Although addiction is more common among young people, it actually might be more difficult to treat in older people. In part, that's because older people often have become more entrenched in their behaviors than younger people. Old habits, as they say, are hard to break. The bigger issue, however, is that older people must often cope with loss—the loss of health, of loved ones, and of purpose.

Cultures that value older people and see them as a source of guidance and wisdom don't have the same rate of problems with substance and alcohol abuse among the older population as do societies that discard the elderly. Indeed, cultures that have less subdivision between generations and between genders generally are much less prone to problems with addiction.

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