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Addiction Happens at Any Age

While some addictions start when we are very young, others do not take hold until later in life. Although the media often depicts addiction as a disease of teens and twenty-somethings, addiction can actually happen at any age or stage of life. Studies show that our minds and bodies are in constant states of change and, as such, our behaviors shift as we get older. Genetics, home environment, mental health issues, and other individual factors can influence whether or not we develop an addiction.

Addiction Among Young People

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), teenagers and those with mental health disorders are at a greater risk for substance use issues than the rest of the population. The NSDUH also concluded that in 2017, 19.7 million American adults (ages 12 and older) struggled with a substance use disorder. Since young people’s brains are not yet fully developed, drug use in children and teenagers can be disastrous. It can lead to, and exacerbate, co-occurring disorders and pave the way for lifelong mental health issues.

Commonly used drugs among young adults include:

  • Marijuana
  • Synthetic marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • Inhalants

Addiction in Older Adults

A study conducted at the University of Kentucky concluded that as many as 17% of Americans over the age of 65 have an alcohol use problem. This population goes largely unnoticed. The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Published a list of signs and symptoms of substance abuse in the elderly. These include changes in eating habits, unexplained bruises, sleep changes, failing to bathe, memory trouble, isolation, and depression, among others. Education about substance use in older populations, family awareness of the issue, and 12-step groups will help bring recovery and attention to this population.

The following stage of life changes can exacerbate drug or alcohol use among young adults:

  • Retirement
  • Death of a loved one
  • Loss of financial status or income
  • Placement in assisted living
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Family conflict
  • Mental or physical health decline, such as memory loss

Benefits of Age-specific Treatment

Building and maintaining a supportive community is a vital part of recovery. Clinical studies and experience show that these essential bonds form more quickly among people with similar life experiences and perceptions. Age-specific treatment is also specially tailored to address the needs important to each age group. Therapists and doctors in age-specific programs can provide care that addresses unique stage of life issues, such as: “failure to launch” issues, marriage counseling, late-onset addiction, acute detox for patients with long term addiction, and more.

Addiction Knows No Age

It’s vital that we do not stereotype addiction as having a timeframe or age attached to it. While there are certain factors that increase the risk of a substance use disorder, it can happen to anyone, at any stage or age in life.


Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today:  561-841-1296.

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.