The DSM-5 defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing condition.” In other words, people in addiction recovery will need to make adjustments to their treatment throughout their lives.
Many people feel discouraged by this definition, but consider other chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and asthma.
If a person with one of these health conditions experiences a flare-up or relapse, it’s not too late to return to treatment, adjust the current treatment, or seek treatment for the first time.
The same principle applies to substance use disorder (SUD). No matter your age or life experiences, you can always seek addiction care.
Is It Too Late For Rehab If I’m An Older Adult?
A large number of older Americans experience addiction. While older adults experience less impulsivity than young adults, they often experience other risk factors such as chronic pain.
Many treatment programs were developed with young adults in mind, but there are also several programs that cater to the specific needs of older people with drug addictions.
Is It Too Late For Rehab If I Have A Severe Addiction?
SUDs range in severity, and people sometimes assume that when their addictions become very severe, treatment will no longer work for them.
While it is true that severe addiction does create more treatment challenges than a moderate addiction, all addictions are treatable.
People dealing with drug and alcohol use may pursue different levels of care according to their circumstances, needs, and addiction severity.
These levels are:
- medical detoxification (detox)
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- inpatient treatment programs
- residential treatment programs
- partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
- intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
- outpatient programs (OP)
A person with a moderately severe addiction and a low risk of withdrawal symptoms, for example, might begin their treatment with PHP or IOP.
Somebody with a more severe addiction may begin with a more intensive level such as medical detox. In any case, treatment is available for all stages of addiction.
Can I Attend A Rehab Center If I’ve Experienced A Relapse?
You may absolutely return to addiction treatment if you have experienced a relapse.
Relapse does not indicate that you or your previous treatments have failed. It simply indicates that your treatment requires a repetition or adjustment to meet your current needs.
You may benefit from the same type of treatment that you received in the past, or you may benefit from a different type of program if you feel that your first program did not provide what you needed.
For example, if you did not receive dual diagnosis care during your first experience with addiction treatment, you might choose a program that offers this service.
If you attended either a religious or non-religious drug abuse program in the past, you might prefer a program that takes the opposite approach.
Is It Too Late For A Drug Rehab Program If I Have A Job Or Children?
People experiencing addiction and drug dependency sometimes ask if it’s too late for treatment when their life experiences change.
For example, you may have a job that you did not have in the past, or you may have experienced relapse after having children.
You may have recently adopted a pet and wonder who will care for your companion if you enter treatment.
When people need a large amount of flexibility, they may not pursue highly structured addiction programs.
However, several SUD services do cater to people with children and high-demand jobs.
Some options include:
- executive addiction programs
- pregnancy-friendly addiction programs
- addiction services for women with children
- pet-friendly treatment options
- short-term substance abuse treatment
- outpatient programs (OP)
Can I Receive Substance Abuse Treatment If My Drug Use Has Caused Health Issues?
While addiction is a mental health condition, it also creates physical health issues and even medical emergencies.
When drug use has caused unconsciousness, severe withdrawal symptoms, and other health problems, friends and family members may wonder if it’s too late for their loved one to recover.
Severe physical health issues may prevent a person from entering some treatment centers right away, as not every treatment center offers medical care.
However, this does not mean that the person has no treatment options. Many addiction programs, particularly hospital-based programs, do provide medical stabilization.
People who have drugs or alcohol in their system may enter a medical detox program during the early stages of their recovery.
Medical detox keeps the client as safe and comfortable as possible as substances leave their body.
What If I Can’t Afford Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
Often, when people ask if it’s too late for addiction care, they are asking because they believe they can no longer afford treatment, or never could.
It is true that addiction services are often costly. However, free and low-cost addiction treatment options may be available to you.
You might pursue any of the following options:
- Medicaid-accepting addiction programs
- state-funded addiction programs
- addiction programs that offer scholarships
- addiction programs with sliding fee scales, where cost is based on income
- addiction programs with other payment assistance
Get Help For Addiction
Addiction is a difficult disorder, but no matter your age group or circumstances, it’s never too late to seek care.
If you or a loved one need substance abuse treatment, contact Addiction Resource today to discover your options.
Published on August 21, 2023
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- American Society Of Addiction Medicine — About The ASAM Criteria
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Is Drug Addiction?
- National Library Of Medicine — Age-Related Aspects Of Addiction