Addiction can be a significant problem for those who have hit retirement age; this includes not just alcohol addiction, but also addiction to prescription medications and even illegal drugs. A struggle with addiction can rob the individual of his or her sense of joy and contentment—to say nothing of physical and mental health—and lead to problems that only worsen through old age.

Why do so many retirees struggle with addiction, though? There are many contributing factors. Here are just a few of them:

  • Retirement brings with it a loss of purpose and structure.
  • Without a daily routine, boredom can set in.
  • The individual may feel like he or she has “earned” the right to be a little “wild,” and start experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
  • There can be latent fears of the aging process.
  • Escalating health concerns can lead to anxieties, and drugs and alcohol may seem soothing.

The list goes on from there. Crucially, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid these retirement-age problems, and to stave off the possibility of addiction. A few tips:

  • Just because you leave the workforce doesn’t mean you have to escape from your professional life altogether; part-time consulting or coaching may prove very fulfilling.
  • Investing in hobbies—whether it’s golf, model trains, traveling, writing a novel, or learning an instrument—can also be rewarding.
  • Relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness and meditation, can be extremely helpful. Regular exercise and good nutrition are also important for maintaining physical and mental vigor.
  • Stay connected with friends and family—and if you have concerns about substance abuse problems or simply with anxiety, open up to someone. You might even consider meeting with a therapist.

Remember: Addiction can impact people of all ages—but thankfully, recovery is also possible at any age.

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