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Is Your Grandfather Abusing Alcohol or Drugs?

What to do if You Think Your Grandfather is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

"I suspect that my grandfather is abusing drugs or alcohol. He may even be abusing both of them. I can't be sure. He's been spending a lot of time alone, and he's not doing the things he used to do. I've thought that I smelled alcohol on his breath the last time I went to see him. With all the medication he takes, this has me very concerned."

Addiction and Your Grandpa

"My grandmother passed away about a year ago. That was a very hard time for my grandfather. She was his entire world. I've noticed quite a drastic change in his behavior since she passed. He's not as sweet as he used to be, and he gets angry very easily. I guess it makes sense that he might turn to substances as a way to help himself feel better. I just wish that he wouldn't have.

"I need to know how I can tell if my grandpa is abusing alcohol or drugs. What signs do I look for? If I find that my suspicions are true, how can I convince him to get help? I have so many questions. This is not a situation I thought I would ever find myself in. Now that I am, I'm not sure of what to do, or where to turn for help."

Perhaps you can identify with the person in this story. You also have a grandfather who may be abusing drugs or alcohol. You know this is a serious situation, but you need to know if it's happening for sure. If it is happening, you need to know how to help him.

Elderly drug abuse and alcohol abuse has gone up in the United States. Unfortunately, so many people are finding that their grandparents are turning to substances. If you're in need of assistance, you're in the right place to get answers.

Is Your Grandfather Abusing Drugs or Alcohol? Look for the Signs of Substance Abuse

Identifying drug or alcohol abuse in the elderly is a challenge at times. This is because the symptoms can easily mimic other symptoms that are common for people their age. Still, you know your grandpa very well. You know that something hasn't been right, but you're just not sure what it is. It's important to know the symptoms of alcohol abuse or drug abuse in older individuals. These are:

  • Changes in their appetite
  • Slurring their words
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Frequently falling down
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry

Have you noticed any of these symptoms in your grandfather? If you have, it should be a red flag to you. It could be that he is abusing alcohol or drugs.

Is Your Grandpa an Addict or an Alcoholic?

If you think that your grandfather is abusing drugs or alcohol, you need to know more. Alcohol and drug abuse can eventually become an addiction. Addictions don't just happen to younger people. They happen in the elderly as well. Some common signs of addiction that you might want to look for include:

  • Bruises on the body
  • Sudden personal hygiene issues
  • Requesting to be left alone
  • Becoming isolated from family or friends
  • Appetite changes and weight gain or loss
  • Digestion issues, such as constipation

Your grandfather might have an addiction to drugs or alcohol if you noticed any of these symptoms. If you're still not sure if he's an addict, taking a quiz can help you understand his behaviors even more.

Addicted Grandfather

Tips and Resources to Help You Through Your Grandpa's Substance Abuse Problem

You probably spend a great deal of time worrying about your grandfather. You love him. He's always been someone you thought of as being strong. You never thought that he would allow drugs or alcohol to take over his life. Still, when you spend so much time worrying, you're probably not caring for yourself. It's important to take the time for yourself that you need.

Families of addicts or drug or alcohol abusers desperately need support. You can get help in a number of ways.

  • Go Online: Communities like The Tribe are plentiful on the Internet. Online support is a great way to get help for the situation you're facing.
  • Al-Anon: Al-Anon is a support groups that's set up for families of alcoholics and addicts. You can find meetings in your city and state.
  • Nar-Anon: Nar-Anon is a support group for families of drug addicts. You'll find great help and support there.
  • Individual Therapy: A therapist can be a great resource for you during this time. It gives you someone to talk to about everything you're going through. It may even help you avoid a mental illness.
  • Your Doctor: Your own medical doctor can also be a great resource for you. He may be able to prescribe medication to help if you show symptoms of depression. He'll also help to keep you healthy as you face this crisis.

It will also help you to spend time with your friends and your own family. Do nice things for yourself, and don't place too much pressure on yourself. Remember, this is a struggle for you too.

Chatting with Your Granddad About His Drug Abuse or Alcohol Abuse

Sometimes elderly people don't realize they're abusing drugs or alcohol. They may think of these substances as ways to help relieve the mental stress they're experiencing. If your grandfather is abusing his prescription medication, he may feel he's justified because he's in pain.

If this is the case, you should talk with him about it. Bring this information to his attention.

You'll want to prepare yourself ahead of time so you'll know what to say. Let him know about the dangers of prescription drugs, and how they can lead to addiction. If he's drinking alcohol, or you're concerned he may become an alcoholic, tell him how you feel. Give him examples of how you've noticed he's changed in recent months.

Above all, let him know you love him and want to help him. Show him that you support him, and you're only saying anything because you truly care. This will go a long way. At the end of your conversation, ask him to consider getting alcohol treatment or drug treatment.

Are You Enabling Your Grandpa's Substance Abuse?

Unfortunately, so many families enable their loved one's substance abuse problems or addictions. They usually don't know they're enabling. They think they're helping. You may think you're being a good granddaughter or grandson. The truth is that you could be doing more harm than good.

Have you ever done any of the following:

  • Used alcohol or drugs alongside your grandfather?
  • Loaned your grandfather money, which may have been used on drugs or alcohol?
  • Offered to run errands for your grandfather because his substance abuse problem prevented it?
  • Lied to others in your family about your grandfather's substance abuse problem?
  • Made food for your grandpa because you wanted to be sure he was eating?

If you have, you're an enabler. This is a tough behavior to stop once you start, but it is possible. Tell your grandfather you want him to get help, and you won't be able to do these things any longer. He may be upset, but it's really for the best.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab for the Elderly and the Benefits for Your Grandfather

Your grandfather may be hesitant to consider addiction treatment. However, it really has so many great benefits for him. These include:

  • Being able to talk with others who also suffer from addiction or substance abuse.
  • Having the chance to heal from the source of his addiction.
  • Learning how to avoid relapsing back into his old substance use habits.
  • Having time to himself to focus on his recovery.
  • Being able to meet with family to help repair broken relationships.
  • Being able to go through drug and alcohol detox, if necessary, to address the physical side of addiction.

Choosing a drug and alcohol rehab that specializes in helping the elderly will be the key for him. This will give him the greatest number of benefits, long-term.

Does Your Grandpa Need an Intervention to Encourage Alcohol and Drug Treatment?

It's possible that your grandfather absolutely refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem. This is very common, and it can leave families stricken with grief. There is another option for you to consider.

You could schedule an intervention. These services are designed to help your grandpa see a need for treatment in his own life. For this meeting, you'll invite others to join you. You'll all prepare something to say ahead of time, and you'll ask your grandpa to get treatment.

Interventions are overseen by interventionists. These are individuals who are trained in how to run these meetings. Your interventionist will coach you as far as what to say and how to present your case. At the end of the meeting, your grandfather will be given the option to go to rehab. You may be surprised when he is finally willing to admit he has a problem. Many people do.

Substance Abuse Treatment is Available for Your Grandfather at Northpoint Washington

Your grandfather needs you now more than ever. If he's abusing drugs or alcohol, he may not realize the damage he's doing to himself. Or, it's also possible that he doesn't care. He might be dealing with a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or PTSD. This can easily lead to alcohol or drug abuse, or even addiction in the elderly.

Regardless of the situation, it's important for him to get help. At Northpoint Washington, we want to provide your grandfather with everything he needs to recover. This might mean opting for intervention services to help him realize a need for treatment. It might mean having him get in touch with us. That way, we can tell him more about the right type of treatment for him. No matter what your family's needs are during this time, we want you to know we're here for you.

Are you struggling with a grandfather who is abusing drugs or alcohol? Are you desperate for a solution that can provide him with real help? Please contact us today and we'll talk with you about how we can assist you.


  • (2017). Al-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). Nar-Anon Family Groups. Retrieved from:
  • (2017). The Tribe Wellness Community. Retrieved from: