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Signs of Addiction

Learn more about how to see it yourself.

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Signs of Addiction in Older Adults

Many people don’t think about alcohol and drug addiction (also called Substance Use Disorder) happening to older adults, but anyone can have problems with alcohol and/or drugs – including those over 50 – even people who have never misused drugs or alcohol before. 

In fact, it can be harder to tell if an older adult has problems with substance use because:

  • They are more likely than younger people to drink alcohol or use other drugs at home rather than in public,

  • If they are retired, it may not be clear how their substance use is negatively affecting their performance, and

  • They are more likely to live alone with no one to observe changes in their behavior.


Here are some signs that you may notice in yourself or someone you love that might indicate there is a problem: 

  • Increased tolerance to alcohol or other drugs (i.e. needing more to feel the same effects)

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when abstaining (shakes, sweats, anxiety, and/or depression)

  • Not being able to control the amount consumed or not being able to stop (even though you want to)

  • Always thinking about drinking/using – to the point that it disrupts home and/or work life

  • Engaging in binge drinking

  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs throughout the day

  • Regularly drinking alcohol or taking drugs with the intent to get drunk or high

  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs every day

  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs and driving

  • Drinking or taking drugs as a way to manage anxiety, stress, or depression 

  • Feeling the need to hide drinking or drug habits from others

  • Getting physically injured when drinking or using 


Certain behaviors – combined with those from above – could also be of concern:

  • Increasingly becoming isolated from others

  • Declining self-care or care for others

  • Increased legal, financial, medical and/or social problems 


If you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, don’t wait to seek help! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wait until you “hit bottom.” Reach out today – we are here to help.

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Logo for Silver Sobriety an alcohol treatment program for older adults

Contact Us

11550 Stillwater Blvd, Suite 103

Lake Elmo, MN 55042


Call: 651-342-1402


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