Substance Abuse

Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

Alcohol - How much is too much?

If you wonder about yourself or someone else, clcick on the link below to take a quick, informative, confidential screen at

Substance Abuse and Older Adults

Older adults may develop problems related to the abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs and drug/alcohol interactions. Current studies estimate the number of older people with heavy drinking patterns to be at 10%, with 2% to 4% considered alcoholic. Abuse of alcohol and legal drugs (prescribed and over-the-counter medications) affects up to 17% of adults age 60 or older according to a 1998 report produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Recognizing Substance Abuse Problems

There are many signs that could indicate a problem with alcohol abuse. However, many of the outward signs such as sleeplessness, tremors, loss of appetite, depression and anxiety disorder may mimic other physical ailments. An alcohol/drug problem can be difficult to detect until it begins to interfere with the tasks of daily life. Because many older adults live alone and are no longer in the workplace, substance abuse is very difficult to identify. Older adults, especially those with recent alcohol abuse, have a better chance of recovery than their younger counterparts. Other factors responsible for the lack of attention to substance abuse in the elderly include shame about use and misuse of substances, along with the reluctance to seek help for such a private issue.

Alcohol Related Physical Problems

Alcohol may cause problems with Central nervous system functioning, sleep disturbances, liver and kidney malfunction, increased risk in heart disease, bone and joint deficiencies, malnutrition and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Where to Get Help

Treatment for substance abuse that is geriatric specific is available at local area hospitals and other treatment centers including:

Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital
1220 N. Dewey Ave.
Wauwatosa, WI
Phone: 414-454-6777

Rogers Memorial Hospital
11101 W. Lincoln Ave.
West Allis, WI
Phone: 800-767-4411

Aurora Behavioral Health Services
2000 E Layton Ave #250
St. Francis, WI
Phone: 414-482-7700

Older adult support groups for those currently receiving treatment meet weekly at the following locations:

Renew Counseling Services - South side location
1225 W. Mitchell St., Suite 213
Milwaukee, WI

Wednesday afternoons - 1:00 to 3:30

7711 N. Port Washington Road
Glendale, WI
Phone: 414-540-2170

You Are Not Alone Support Group
Tues. 12:45-2pm
West Allis Senior Center
7001 W National Ave
Phone: 302-8700

Alcoholics Anonymous: It Depends on You
Fri. 230pm-4pm
West Allis Senior Center
7001 W National Ave
Phone: 302-8700

Concerned about yourself or a loved one? Please remember you are not alone.

Contact your physician, The Aging Resource Center of Milwaukee County (414) 289-6874, or a local treatment center, as the beginning step in your recovery process.

Links to Websites

Alzheimers Association of Southeastern Wisconsin

Anxiety Disorders

Mental Health Association 

National Institute on Aging

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

National Institutes of Mental Health

National Mental Health Association

Rogers Memorial Hospital   



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