Treatment Programs

Substance Use Treatment Program for Older Adults

We mobilize the power of proven treatment for addiction and medical and mental health issues with components designed to address the needs of older adults.

Older couple with eyes closed, hugging each other with their arms on each other's shoulders.

At a Glance

  • A dedicated unit

    offers private rooms in a state-of-the-art medical center.

  • Supportive group therapy

    addresses bereavement, denial, anger, age-related loss, and loneliness.

  • Mobility and medical needs

    are assessed daily.


Highlights of the Older Adult Program

Of the 55 million older adults in the US in 2020, 4.4 million of them will need substance abuse treatment. This issue may go unnoticed by family members and friends. In many cases, even the person with the alcohol or drug problem may not realize the extent of the problem. Being aware of unusual behavior in your loved one is a critical first step in diagnosing a substance use disorder and getting treatment.

Caron has provided treatment for substance use disorders for more than 60 years. We know that treatment utilizing dialectical (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) is most effective in teaching older adults new coping and relationship skills. With specialty groups, we also use modalities such as DBT, CBT, and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), and trauma programming. We use proven behavioral health therapies that preserve dignity, build self-esteem, and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

An Adaptable, Comprehensive Treatment Program

Caron’s specialized Older Adult Program addresses addiction along with co-occurring conditions commonly seen in older adults. The program, located at Caron Pennsylvania, is effective for the use of early intervention, treatment, and relapse prevention.

We embrace the benefits of a personalized, flexible approach to achieving wellness, adapting our program for a person’s age and physical, mental, and emotional condition. Significant medical issues—like chronic pain, diabetes, or cardiac problems—are also taken into account in the patient’s individualized treatment plan.

For each patient, our addiction specialists administer a psychological assessment, which includes cognitive testing. Our specialists continue to monitor patients for improvement and will adjust care plans as necessary. Patients build social support networks, gain self-awareness, overcome difficult emotions such as grief and depression, and restore their sense of meaning and purpose.

The daily schedule is crafted to adhere to each patient’s pace with the inclusion of activities that take into account mobility and possible co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Treatment Components

A multidisciplinary treatment team creates a personalized plan to treat substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and significant medical issues. The plan includes these components as needed:

  • Treatment of addiction interaction disorders, which include shopping, gambling, sex addiction, spending, eating disorders, etc.
  • Daily supportive group therapy to address issues of bereavement, denial, anger, shame, grief and loss of one’s purpose, age-related loss and loneliness.
  • Daily assessment by certified nurse assistants based on mobility and medical needs; nursing and medical coverage 24/7.
  • Chronic pain management.
  • Medication assessment to ensure appropriate prescription and dosage.
  • On-site medically supervised detoxification.
  • Psychological assessments, which includes cognitive testing and monitoring for improvement.
  • Spiritual counseling.
  • Relapse prevention.
  • Integrative neurofeedback therapy.

The plan also encompasses daily wellness therapies such as stretching, meditation, yoga, physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. It encourages exercise through movement groups, dancing mindfulness, therapeutic drumming, and others as recommended by the treatment team.

We also treat couples who are suffering from substance abuse.

East Lounge

Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Older Adults

Because some of the signs of substance abuse mirror the signs of aging, it can be difficult to recognize if there is an issue or its extent. Medications that many older people take may mask or mimic substance abuse symptoms. The fact that older people generally also drink or take drugs at home alone also makes it difficult to know if they need treatment for substance use disorder.

Due to the normal aging process, drugs and alcohol affect every part of the body differently because it cannot metabolize the same way it had. These signs and symptoms may indicate substance abuse:

  • Agitation.
  • Altered liver function.
  • Anemia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Changes in mental abilities.
  • Changes in eating habits, particularly not eating as much.
  • Decline in personal cleanliness.
  • Depression.
  • Drinking in spite of warning labels on prescription drugs.
  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Hostility/violence.
  • Incontinence.
  • Increased confusion.
  • Irritability.
  • Loss of friends or not staying in regular touch.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Marital problems.
  • Memory lapses or impairment.
  • Mood swings.
  • Not being oriented to date, time and place.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Problems sleeping and/or sleeping more during the day.
  • Repeated falls.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Solitary or secretive drinking.
  • Unable to complete activities of daily living.
  • Unexplained burns/bruises.

Treatment ends. Our support does not.

The treatment team collaborates to develop a continuing care plan for your loved one that includes tools and recommendations for recovery when they return home. Caron Pennsylvania provides support and guidance to patients for a full year through our alumni support activities and the Caron Recovery Network.


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