Opiate Addiction Treatment for Older People – the Essentials

The number of opiate users in treatment, aged 40 and over, has tripled in 12 years. In 2018, there were 75,000 over-40s in opiate addiction treatment in England, compared to 25,000 in 2006. Of last year’s opiate treatment clients, 53% were 40 or older.

In June 2019, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reported that high-risk older drug users are set to become the largest drug treatment group in Europe.

In America, there’s an opioid epidemic, including a recent rapid rise in opiate addiction treatment for older adults (aged 55 and over). First-time treatment admissions for over 55s with opiate addiction doubled between 2013 and 2015.

In this post, we’ll consider the most important features of residential opiate detox and rehab for older people. Please call Addiction Helper for up-to-date advice on the best opiate treatment programmes in the UK and overseas.


Opiate Addiction Treatment for Older People – Detox and Rehab Essentials

The essentials of opiate addiction detox and rehab for older people are:
• Safe detoxification from physically addictive opiates, including when clients need to take prescribed medications for co-existing health conditions
• Effective rehabilitation for opiate addicts, including long term users or people who have been in treatment before, giving people hope for the future and strategies to maintain recovery
• Support for each client’s wider mental and physical health, as well as personal needs, so to ensure a comfortable stay in treatment, prevent addiction relapse, build resilience and improve quality of life
• Options for medium to long-term support, including individual recovery plans, free aftercare, signposting to community support and secondary treatment where necessary.

Opiate drug detox

Opiates such as heroin, methadone, morphine, codeine and tramadol, are physically addictive drugs – so it is essential to detoxify with medical assistance. This is even more important when you’re being treated for other health conditions. In residential centres, your detox will be prescribed and monitored closely by clinical staff.

Drug detoxification is also best undertaken within the supportive framework of a drug rehab programme. The therapeutic support will help you manage physical and emotional experiences, as you withdraw safely from opiates.

Opiate drug rehab – addiction treatment essentials

For opiate clients of all ages, the best residential rehab programmes provide a range of treatments, including traditional and alternative therapies. Most of these activities will be carried out in groups. You should also expect to have access to 1-2-1 therapy, working with a focal counsellor during your stay.

Older people, particularly long-term opiate users and first-time treatment clients, may feel very anxious about going into rehab. If you have any concerns, you can discuss these in your telephone assessment with Addiction Helper. We will answer all your questions, liaising with your treatment team to ensure you are fully supported.

Opiate drug rehab – supporting additional physical, psychological and psychiatric needs

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs highlight that older opiate users have higher levels of physical, psychological and psychiatric needs. Opiate treatment services for older people should be equipped to assess and support these additional needs.

Physical problems in older opiate users include a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and liver disease. There are also higher rates of blood-borne diseases in injecting opiate users. Drug treatment providers should always assess the full picture of your physical health, ideally with 24/7 monitoring throughout your detox period to ensure your comfort. Drug rehab programmes should also support you with other pressing health concerns, so you can start developing coping strategies during your residential stay.

Psychological problems in older opiate users include trauma, grief and loneliness, so addiction treatment services should be equipped to help clients in these areas. Many addiction treatment providers do have staff with specialist trauma skills, which can be very helpful if you have suffered abuse in childhood, violence, assault, serious injury or a painful bereavement. By building your awareness and resilience in rehab, it can help you to sustain recovery. If you need ongoing counselling for trauma, some outpatient therapists can help you long term.

Psychiatric problems in older opiate users include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder or psychosis. Having a diagnosed mental illness alongside addiction is known as a dual diagnosis.

Opiate drug recovery – ongoing support

For opiate users of any age, it’s essential to have support beyond residential treatment. If you already have good family relationships and community networks, stable finances and regular contact with your GP, you may find that attending rehab aftercare sessions and/or a local addiction recovery group is enough.

For many older opiate clients, however, there are multiple and sometimes complex support needs, including housing, domestic, financial, health, nutritional, social and cultural needs.

It’s essential to take the time you really need to transition from life in opiate addiction to your new life in recovery. Many people benefit from extended care in a secondary treatment facility to build on everything you’ve learned in primary treatment. You will live alongside other recovering peers and have professional support, giving you time to adapt to your recovery, improve your health and build your confidence.

Phone or send a message to Addiction Helper about opiate addiction treatment. Your enquiry is confidential.

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