Substance abuse

KY is ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose.

To find county specific information on overdose numbers click here.

Addiction among people 65 and older is often underestimated and under-diagnosed, which can prevent them from getting the help they need.  Substance abuse among senior citizens can be classified into 2 general forms:  the "hardy survivor," or those who have been abusing substances for many years, and the "late onset" group, who formed addictions later in life.

Potential triggers for drug or alcohol addiction in the elderly are:

  • Retirement
  • Death of a family member, spouse, pet or close friend
  • Loss of income or financial strains
  • Relocation or placement in a nursing home
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Family conflict
  • Mental or physical health decline (depression, memory loss, major surgeries)


Some signs of elderly drug or alcohol abuse to look for include:

  • Memory problems
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Irritability, sadness, depression
  • Unexplained chronic pain
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Wanting to be alone often
  • Failing to bathe or keep clean
  • Losing touch with loved ones
  • Lack of interest in usual activities


According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, men and women aged 65 or older should consume no more than 1 drink daily and a maximum of 2 drinks on any occasion.

America's Health Rankings Senior Report reports that 4% of Kentucky residents 65 and older reported binge or chronic drinking.  Binge drinking is defined as 5+ drinks on one occasion in the past month for men and 4+ drinks for women.  Chronic drinking is more than 2 drinks daily for men and more than 1 daily for women.  To see how Kentucky compares with other states click here.

SOS for Addictions was created to provide a safe haven for individuals and families who are battling addiction. First and foremost, we’re a community designed to get you the help you need. We give those struggling with addiction the opportunity to search for and connect with professionals and service providers in the surrounding area. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it’s our mission to foster hope.      SOS

***The information provided on the KCHC website is provided as an informational resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

***Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. The KCHC expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability for any damages, loss, or injury whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information received from the KCHC website. KCHC does not endorse specifically any information item, test, treatment, or procedure mentioned in the KCHC website.