Mistrust and self-isolation: barriers to social support for older adult methadone clients

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Journal of Gerontological Social Work


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to explore barriers to the use, maintenance, and expansion of social supports in older adult methadone clients.

Methods: The data for this analysis were derived from a qualitative study of the needs of aging methadone clients. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with 24 methadone clients over the age of 50.

Results: A lack of trust was identified as a principal barrier to the use, maintenance, and expansion of the social supports of older adult methadone clients. Causes of this mistrust include issues associated with aging, past traumatic experiences, and difficult personal relationships.

Implications: These findings imply that addressing the issue of self isolation and recognizing the reason older adult methadone clients engage in this behavior is a key element in getting this specific population to use, maintain, and foster healthy social supports. A common phrase echoed throughout the interviews is that a person cannot trust anybody. Because of this mistrust, some clients keep to themselves by electing to self-isolate and decline to use, maintain, or foster new relationships. As a result, these individuals are less likely foster and/or engage in healthy social relationships, which are a key component of substance abuse treatment and abstinence maintenance.