Why Caregiving and Substance Abuse Don’t Mix

54766792 - drunk and depressed lonely woman holding a glass of whisky with a sad expression

Share this story

Help us spread the word. One share can save elders’ life.

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Patient. Understanding. Reliable. These attributes describe caregivers: people who put the needs of an elderly loved one or family member ahead of their own. A job that requires selflessness, caregiving involves providing emotional and physical support to someone who may be ill, disabled or elderly. It can be a rewarding position, but equally demanding and exhausting.

The daily stress and emotional weight of this job can leave many caregivers searching for coping mechanisms in all the wrong places, like at the bottom of a bottle or in a packet of pills. Caregivers seek relief from the most difficult aspects of their jobs. The fatigue, loneliness, depression and anxiety that can come with this selfless role are enough for any caregiver to turn to drugs or alcohol. But this is always a dangerous choice

Caregiver Substance Abuse Puts Lives at Risk

If a caregiver makes a habit of drinking or taking prescription drugs or illicit substances (crack cocaine, meth, etc.), they could easily become addicted. The consequences of a caregiver’s drug use as a coping mechanism can include:

  • Inability to care for oneself: Caregiving can be a major sacrifice of one’s time and energy. As a result, the caregiver’s health can often cease to be a priority. When drugs or alcohol are added to the mix, they only make matters worse and can contribute to debilitating mental and physical illnesses. If a caregiver is dependent on drugs to make it through the day, they will likely be unable to truly care for themselves, and in turn, the person in their charge.
  • Incapable of providing proper care: If a caregiver is drunk, high or hungover, they inadvertently put their loved one’s life at risk. Under the influence, a caregiver might not hear their loved one slip or fall, give them the wrong dosage of their daily pills, forget their regular mealtimes, or worse.

Caregivers who are inebriated are much more likely to verbally or physically abuse someone in their care. If you suspect mishandling of your loved one or elder abuse, don’t wait to take action. Contact an elder law practice like the Law Offices of Kimberly K. Muenter, P.A. She offers comprehensive legal support, counsel and defense for every issue affecting seniors, including elder abuse. Call Attorney Muenter at 941.567.1671 to learn more.

Is My Loved One’s Caregiver Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?

If you notice inconsistencies or odd shifts in behavior in your loved one’s caregiver, it may be indicative of a substance use disorder. While this is not an exhaustive list, signs that could point to caregiver drug or alcohol addiction include:

  • Changes in physical appearance: red or glassy eyes, runny nose, chemical odor, sniffling, etc.
  • Changes in behavior: increased irritability, negative attitude, falling asleep easily, etc.
  • Mismanagement of medications: hiding pill bottles, taking your loved one’s medications home, being protective or secretive about medications, collecting and filling prescriptions for other people, having a loved one’s pills go missing, etc.
  • Excess of pill bottles or alcohol containers
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • ● Withdrawal from friends and family

Finding the Right Treatment for Your Caregiver

Caregivers are oftentimes family members or friends of the person in their charge. They may be a loved one of your loved one — someone dedicated to preserving the health and happiness of a person you hold dear. Their sacrifices as caregivers should not go unnoticed, and if they develop a substance use disorder, it deserves to be addressed compassionately. If you know a caregiver in need of drug or alcohol rehab, encourage them to call The Recovery Village to evaluate their options. It’s free, totally confidential, and there is never any obligation to commit to treatment.

The Recovery Village offers a full continuum of rehab programs for people who want to leave addiction behind for good. Offering several drug and alcohol rehab centers in Florida, your caregiver can find exactly the kind of treatment they need at The Recovery Village. Call today to get started.