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Tackling the Growing Problem of Drug Abuse in Older People

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Drug Abuse in Older People

~by Lily McCann
Recognizing the signs of alcoholism or other addictions in ourselves, or others, is always difficult, but there is one segment of the population in which the signs may be particularly easy to overlook. Older people are increasingly likely to be affected by addiction, but their needs are often missed because of the assumption that addiction is something that only affects younger people. While it is true that addiction most often develops in younger people, it can also arise later in life— in older people, particularly if they are coping with major life changes or taking large numbers of medications.


Drug Abuse in Older People: A Growing Problem

The Department of Health and Human Services states that the number of admissions to hospital of people between the ages of 65 and 84 for substance abuse rose by 96% between 1997 and 2008. For over 85s, it rose by 87% over the same period, and the problem is continuing to grow. An estimated 17% of over 60s currently abuse substances including prescription medications, but the Hazelden treatment group estimates that this number could double by 2020.


Why Are Older People at Risk?

Older people can be particularly vulnerable to alcoholism and other forms of addiction because of many potentially stressful life changes that happen as we age. Psychguides describes these changes in terms of their effect on our mental health, suggesting that they can increase the risk of depression, which affects about 6.5 million over 65s in the US. The same causes can also increase our susceptibility to addiction.

One of the most obvious transitions that we make as we age is the entry into retirement. Retiring can be a very positive experience, but it can also be difficult to adjust if we have focused our identities and self-esteem around our careers. The aging process itself also brings changes. We can find ourselves losing confidence, mobility or the ability to participate in the leisure activities that we once enjoyed. We may move into a retirement community, nursing home or find ourselves housebound by ill health. It can become more difficult for us to maintain contact with friends and family.

Many of us will have to cope with bereavement in our old age. We may begin to look for solace in dangerous places, or simply end up relying on prescription medications that we don’t really need.

 

Prescription Drugs and Juggling Medications

Abuse of prescription medications is a growing problem for people of all ages, but older people can be particularly at risk of misusing these drugs. As we grow older, we are more likely to be prescribed potentially addictive medications. We may end up taking multiple medications, over extended periods, with little coordination between the various medical professionals who are writing the prescriptions. It can be all too easy for a problem to develop before anyone realizes what is happening. According to MUST for Seniors, approximately two thirds of prescriptions given to older patients may be unnecessary, unsafe or for a dose that is too high, and 76% of seniors may have difficulty understanding the medical information they are given.

However, the risk of addiction to today’s older people does not just come from prescribed medications. As the Baby Boomer Generation grows older, they approach old age with a different (more relaxed) attitude concerning drugs and alcohol than that of their predecessors. The NIH is concerned that this could lead to a greater number of addiction problems in the older population. The impact will only be exacerbated by the fact that as we age, our bodies find it harder to cope with the effects of alcohol and other addictive substances.

Drug Abuse in Older People: How to Help

Awareness that addiction can affect older people as well as younger generations is an important step toward ensuring that everyone who needs help will one day, have appropriate resources available to them. If you are concerned about a loved one, there are steps you can take. The same advice that applies to addiction and recovery for other age groups can guide you through the process of finding help. It is also important to keep in mind the special circumstances that may have affected your older friend or relative such as confusion or not understanding. If you are concerned about their prescriptions, you might want to arrange for a medical professional to review all of the dosages, for both their prescription and over the counter medications, to identify any issues.


Raising the topic of addiction with an older relative or parent can be very difficult but it is important to speak up if you are concerned. Assuming that older addicts cannot be helped, that they may be too set in their ways to change or that it is too late to do anything is a mistake.

Eliminating prescription medication problems and treating addictions can have significant effects on an older person’s health, cognition and independence. Some of the symptoms that we may have attributed to getting older, such as confusion, anxiousness or memory loss, can even turn out to have been caused by the addiction. Drug abuse in older people CAN be terminated. Never give up on your loved one.

 

References:
1. “Curbing Prescription Drug Abuse in Medicare,” US Department of Health and Human Services, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/2013/06/4483.html.
2. “Substance abuse among the elderly: a growing problem,” Hazelden, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/ade60220.page.
3. “Living with Depression in Older Adults,” Psychguides, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.psychguides.com/guides/living-with-depression-in-older-adults/.
4. “Prescription drugs are increasingly taken as primary drugs of abuse,” Drug Addiction Help Now, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.drug-addiction-help-now.org/prescription-drugs/prescription-drugs.
5. “Fact Sheet: Medicine Use and Older Adults,” MUST for Seniors, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.mustforseniors.org/documents/must_factsheet.pdf.
6. “Illicit Drug Abuse,” NIH Senior Health, accessed March 20, 2014, http://nihseniorhealth.gov/drugabuse/illicitdrugabuse/01.html.
7. “Preventing and recognizing prescription drug abuse,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/prescription-drugs-abuse-addiction/preventing-recognizing-prescription-drug-abuse.
8. “Substance Abuse and Misuse Among Older Adults,” Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, accessed March 20, 2014, http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/substnabuse_factsheet.html.

 

RELATED:

> Prescription Drugs are Increasingly
Taken as Primary Drugs of Abuse

RESOURCES:
>
Recommended Books and DVDs
for families of substance abusers and addicts

>
Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug
Treatment Directory

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery." by Joe Herzanek
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know
about addiction and recovery

> Paperback
> Audio Book CD (6 hrs. 54 min.) (LISTEN TO SAMPLE)
> Kindle
> Audible Audio (6 hrs. 54 min.) Download


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Heroin Addiction Recovery: A Gift of Hope for Families

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RECOVERY BOOKS:

The Healing Game. Real Stories of
Heroin Addiction Recovery: A Gift of Hope for Families

Heroin Addiction Recovery: The Healing Game~By Bill Brids and
Maureen Morrissey-Capen


“I eventually changed from
treating recovery as a chore,
to embracing recovery in my life.”
~Charlie from Duxbury

~Review by Judy Herzanek,
Changing Lives Foundation

 

I love this quote (above) by “Charlie” –the subject of the third memoir in “The Healing Game,” a wonderful collection of the lives of three young adults, their struggle with addiction and personal triumphs.

This is a book of hope. The stories are typical and real. The authors begin with their own words; these are words from parents who know firsthand what they are talking about.

“The emotional highs and lows an addicted child brings to a parent’s heart rival any known to the human condition. Family bonds, once solid as granite, are shattered and continually tested–as deceit, desperation and manipulation replace respect, trust and love. Battle-lines are drawn between husband and wife, sibling and parent. Frail grandparents are manipulated, while family heirlooms begin to decorate the cast iron shelving of the local pawnshop, sold to feed the monster called Addiction.”

This book details the lives of three young adult opiate addicts–good kids from “proper homes.” We follow them as the insidiousness of addiction takes hold and fights to destroy–their lives, their families and their futures.

Although I was drawn into each story and found each young adult’s struggle unique, the account of “Charlie from Duxbury” was particularly enlightening to me. His deadly roller-coaster ride with addiction was finally arrested as he triumphantly discovered the keys to a new life.

“When I was enslaved to my addiction I used to wake up in the morning and my first thought was. . . Who am I gonna rob today? . . . I thought that detox was all I needed. . . (but) I needed to fix my head, and the only way I could do that was to go through the Twelve Steps.”

As per the authors, each of the three young addicts profiled in this book actively continues their recovery. This book was written to offer families a gift of hope. The best way to convey this hope is in Charlie’s own words “Being an addict has definitely changed me in a positive way. When I was using drugs, I thought that drugs and alcohol were going to be a part of my life forever. I didn’t know that there was a way to be happy without mind-altering substances. . . . I love sobriety because I can now help others”

I recommend this book to anyone who has had their life touched by addiction–to better understand, provide real-life examples of hope and give readers encouragement that people can and DO recover.

“The path you take to recovery is up to you.
It really depends on how willing you are to find and work recovery.”

~Authors Bill Brids and Maureen Morrissey-Capen are both parents of recovered addicts and live on the South Shore in Massachusetts. They met at a local support group and became friends.
~ Bill has a wonderful blog named Addiction Journal that is well-worth checking out

 

Heroin Addiction Recovery: The Healing Game
The Healing Game:
Available exclusively on Amazon Kindle

RESOURCES:
> Recommended Books and DVDs
for families of substance abusers and addicts

>
Low cost, No cost Alcohol and Drug
Treatment Directory

 

Why Don't They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery." by Joe Herzanek
Get the help you need today.
Why Don’t They Just Quit?
What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery

 

> Paperback
> Audio Book CD (6 hrs. 54 min.) (LISTEN TO SAMPLE)
> Kindle
> Audible Audio (6 hrs. 54 min.) Download




OTHER ARTICLES:
> A Mother Reflects on Her Daughter’s Addiction
> Relapse explained: “Slips and Human Nature”
> Addiction. What if they just CAN’T quit?
> Drug Addiction Relapse: The Revolving Door
FREE NEWSLETTER:


RETURN:
From “Heroin Addiction Recovery: A Gift of Hope for Families” to Changing Lives Foundation Blog Home

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Heroin Addiction, Heroin Recovery, Hope for Families

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Monthly Review: Addiction. A Family Disease, China’s Web Junkies & Raising the Bottom

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Monthly Review: November ’13—February ’14
Addiction. A Family Disease, China’s Web Junkies
and Raising the Bottom

Addiction A Family Disease
Happy Springtime
from Changing Lives Foundation!

In case you missed our latest posts from the past several months—we’ve gathered some of them together for you to enjoy.

Also, we introduce our newest resource for families dealing with ANY ADDICTION (scroll to the bottom). Thanks for being part of our Changing Lives Foundation Community.

Why is Addiction Called “A Family Disease”?

~By Kathy Brock Frasier, Regional Director, The Addict’s Mom
Addiction is called a “family disease” yet many will dispute this by responding “I do not have the problem; He/she has the problem because he /she is the one taking drugs.” However, addiction wraps its tentacles tightly around those closest to the addict, most typically family and friends. READ MORE

 

Raising The Bottom

Help an Addict by “Raising their Bottom”

“After speaking with and emailing hundreds of parents, spouses and other family members, I know this is a lot easier said, than done. Raising the bottom is especially difficult for mothers and is one of the reasons I wrote the book Why Don’t They JUST QUIT? to get this message to as many as possible.” ~Chaplain Joe Herzanek    READ MORE

 

China's Internet Addiction

China among first to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder.

 China’s Web Junkies: Internet Addiction, a Clinical Disorder

This disturbing, thought-provoking 7 minute video about internet addiction and how it affects children and their families sheds light on an issue that has yet to reach these proportions in the United States. We, at Changing Lives Foundation believe it is well-worth taking the time to watch.  READ MORE

 

NEW RESOURCE FROM CHANGING LIVES!
Help for Families Battling ANY ADDICTION.

Why Don't They Just Quit METH? 2 DVD Set

Why Don’t They Just Quit METH? Families need help too.
(Roundtable Discussion 2-Disc Set includes bonus feature)

Answers for families facing addiction for the first time! 
Yes, meth addicts DO recover and families can and do get better.

This DVD is for families dealing with ANY drug or alcohol addiction (not just meth).
TO PURCHASE OR LEARN MORE

 With appreciation to our Changing Lives Supporters who made this filming possible,
and to the following for your excellent contribution:
> Tonya Wheeler (Executive Dir: Advocates for Recovery)
> Trish Frye (Program Dir: Rise Recovery)
> Michael Connely: (Dir: Odyssey Training Center)
> Dr. Nicolas Taylor: (Taylor Behavioral Health)
> Warren and Colleen
> Brandon Stiller, Ann Theis, Josh Stanton: (Open Media Foundation)
> Karen Steenekamp: (Open Design, LLC)
____________________________________________________________________________________________

Changing Lives Foundation Logo
. . . a Colorado Non-Profit Organization

> FREE NEWSLETTER:
Please sign up for our Free Changing Lives E-Newsletter!

> JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (now over 2,000 members):
This was sent to us recently by one of our wonderful Facebook Private Group members: “I feel I need the support of others that can relate to how I’m feeling. I’m unable to attend face to face meetings. Therefore groups, like Changing Lives has literally been a lifeline for me. Your group is the first I go to every day. I believe this was the first group I joined on Facebook. Thank you! My life has forever changed…for the better!” Please consider joining us. Ask to join and a group member will sign you in!

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Addiction—A Family Disease, China’s Web Junkies,  Rock Bottom

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Addiction Denial – The Elephant in the Room

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By Ned Wicker

Elephant in the Room

~Painting by Jess Herzanek

During one of his recent sermons, my pastor Mike Frans put up a slide for the congregation to examine. It was a photo of a corporate conference room, with a dozen people seated around a large table. In the room was an elephant. Nobody was paying any attention to it. Whether intentionally, or unintentionally, no person in the conference room wanted to deal with the fact of the elephant.

For me, the elephant in the room was a good visual for recognizing “denial.” Maybe if I ignore it, the elephant will go away. Perhaps if I appease it by offering a few peanuts it will have the good sense to understand my needs and allow me to continue my work. Nobody else is saying anything about the elephant. Maybe they don’t see it. In that case, I’ll say nothing. Then again, it may not be there at all if I close my eyes. It could be a baby elephant. That wouldn’t be so bad.

Denial is a brutal enemy, because it doesn’t allow us to confront the problem, find a solution, or give us any hope of recovery. A while back a woman was trying to convince me that denial was relative. She insisted that a person who doesn’t see a problem isn’t in denial because they don’t believe there is a problem. No amount of evidence makes any difference. If my life is out of control, my relationships are broken or damaged, my job is gone and I am having health problems as a result of my drug use, and if I am the only person that doesn’t see it, that’s denial. Addiction Denial isn’t subjective, it’s objective.

People always think they can handle it. They can quit any time. They will not become addicted. They deny the problem. That’s why the first of the 12 Steps starts out by stating, “We admitted…” Step 1 is about getting over denial. I see the elephant in the room, I acknowledge it and I realize that if I don’t remove the elephant in the room, cleaning up the mess will be a major task. After all, you have to feed the elephant and its droppings are not pleasant. Still, denial is powerful and people will actually choose to live with the elephant rather than admitting its existence.

Denial robs us of opportunity. Let’s say your “elephant” is tiny, a new born. By not admitting that the problem is there, that your control is slipping, that the potential for disaster is looming around the corner, there is not way you’re going to address the issue and find a strategy to deal with it. Addictions, like elephants, can grow in to very large problems. Denial is also myopic and arrogant. I don’t see it, so you’re wrong. You can’t possibly be right, because that would mean that I’m wrong and we can’t have that.

Denial stunts personal growth. Health issues aside, by feeding the elephant instead of our soul, we stagnate as a person. There is no room for reason, for stretching one’s understanding or reaching out to others. There is no room for development. Addiction keeps us trapped in one place, to feed the elephant and limits human potential.

Sometimes one of the people in the room exclaims, “Let’s get rid of the elephant.” Others may agree and say, “Yes, the elephant is getting in the way and we don’t want to deal with it.” However, if the elephant is yours, you say, “Oh no, you’re wrong. You’re being hateful. Stop judging me. You have no right to say there’s an elephant in the room.” If denial takes a strong foothold, they you and your elephant may be asked to leave the room.

Overcoming denial leads to restoration. It is the beginning of the process, and the beginning of a new and exciting period of self-discovery and examination. You don’t need the elephant. Nobody else wants the elephant. Get rid of your denial elephant and get back to your place at the conference table.

Ned Wicker is the Addictions Recovery Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center He author’s a website for addiction support:

Drug-Addiction-Support.org or Drug Addiction Symptoms

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ned_Wicker

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RELATED:
Detachment is Hard-–Radio interview with Joe Herzanek
Codependent, WHY do we continue to rescue?

RESOURCES:
Addiction Recovery Resources for Families of Substance Abusers, Addicts and Alcoholics

CLF METH 3D small

>  Family help for METH addiction
Answers for families facing addiction for the first time!
Yes, meth addicts DO recover and families can and do get better.

Read more about detachment with love:

Why Don't They Just Quit? by Joe Herzanek
Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery.

> Paperback
> Audio Book CD (Listen in your car)
> Kindle
> Audible Audio Download  (LISTEN TO 4 MIN. SAMPLE)

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FROM : “The Elephant in the Room” TO CHANGING LIVES FOUNDATION BLOG HOME

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Addiction Denial, Elephant in the Room, Addiction Denial, Elephant in the Room

* Have you “tried everything?” To learn about family phone counseling with Joe Herzanek  click here.

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