Substance Abuse Has No Age Limits

Substance abuse can be a sensitive topic, but it affects more people than you think. According to the World Health Organization, over 35 million people worldwide suffer from substance use disorder (SUD). This condition affects teens, young adults, and even the elderly.

Risks to Substance Abuse

Here are some of the factors which pose risks to substance abuse.


The environment includes everything external from an individual. Growing up in an abusive, alcoholic, or drug-using household may increase youth substance abuse risk. Social and peer pressure is also a risk factor for teenagers and young adults. As for older substance users, stress and peer pressure are two common external factors to addiction.

Biological Sex

Biological sex can play an indirect role in substance abuse. For example, more women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men and have greater access to prescription opioids. Ease of access to a substance increases your capacity to abuse it. The effects of drugs and alcohol and your tolerance to them can also differ depending on your biological sex.

Popular Culture

Many elderly substance abusers began taking drugs and alcohol at a young age. Most elderly patients began experimenting during the 1960s when attitudes toward substance use were very different than today.

Other Conditions

PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders also have a connection with substance abuse. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 9.5 million adults ages 18 and above have co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse disorders in 2019.

Common Substance Abuse Cases

Substance abuse can affect people of all ages. Here are the common causes and consequences of substance abuse according to age group.

Substance Abuse in Teens and Adolescents

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and CDC, the average age of first-time exposure is 13.2 for alcohol and 15.1 for cocaine. Half of the high school students in the United States also report having used marijuana. Furthermore, roughly 40% of the same population has tried cigarettes. Surveys also show 62% of college students use alcohol, while 13.2% of non-college adults use marijuana.

Teens and adolescents are in a phase of exploration. Thus, they often try dangerous substances out of curiosity or social pressure. While social development is helpful for teens, substance abuse may lead to dire consequences in the long run. Chronic health risks, insufficient brain development, and an inclination for risky behavior are some of the effects of substance abuse in teens.

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults

Although substance abuse among older adults might seem less probable, there has been an increase in SUD cases recently. According to a recent projection, a 103% rise of substance abuse patients among individuals ages 50 and above is expected. Possible substance use disorders among the elderly include opioids, marijuana, alcohol, and nicotine.

Opioids are the primary pain-relieving medications doctors prescribe to cancer, pain, and heart disease patients. Nearly 9% of the total elderly population uses prescription opioids for pain management. Addiction to opioids can lead to overdosing, major health problems, and social isolation.

Alcohol is yet another possible type of substance abuse among older adults. Around 65% of patients over the age of 65 have reported excessive drinking. Even if older alcoholics may no longer harm other people while drunk, they may endanger themselves. Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage, high blood pressure, mood disorders, diabetes, and memory issues.

Although nicotine and marijuana addictions are less common among older patients, these substances still cause significant health effects. Nicotine and cigarette smoking can lead to unhealthy lungs and an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, marijuana is known to result in depression, impaired memory, judgment, and movement.

Substance Abuse Counseling in New York

Substance abuse has no age limits because multiple external factors affect your addiction risk. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse, you should reach out to professional healthcare experts for assistance.

Here at Psy-Visions, we recognize the connection between substance abuse and mental health. Dr. Mark Stracks and our team can guide you to recovery. We offer diagnostic services, counseling, detoxification, and Suboxone therapy.

We have locations in New York and Connecticut for your convenience. For more information about our services, please call us at (203) 405-1745 or (718) 887-2918. You can also voice your concerns and seek help through our secure and confidential online forms. We look forward to helping you recover from your addiction.

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