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AARP Article on Seniors and Addiction

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AARP Article on Seniors and Addiction

I know from an article I wrote on alcohol dementia for the Alzheimer’s Foundation Care ADvantage magazine (winter/spring 2010 issue, pg. 17), that when seniors drink excessively, it’s a whole different animal compared to young people drinking. For one thing, older people metabolize alcohol differently from their younger counterparts. In addition, the loved ones who may be in the best position to do something about it may be in denial about the extent of the problem. For example, an adult child might say, “Oh, let Dad have his drinks at night. He’s been grieving about Mom since she passed away.”older alcoholic.jpg

A “special report on older addicts” in a recent edition of AARP magazine quotes a report from SAMHSA as predicting that the “number of boomers with substance-abuse problem will double from 2.5 million in 199 to 5 million in 2020.” The article notes that the need for treatment will also double and blames it the proliferation of prescription medication use.

The article opened with the story of a 52-year-old man who was abusing alcohol and other drugs which devastated his family, including an 8-year-old son. The son becomes so enraged at his father’s drinking that he rips up a photo of the two of them, which propels his father to agree to rehab.

I don’t know about you, but I like having as many facts as possible about addiction, and this author comes through. She notes that doctors have become more aggressive in attempting to treat pain in the last few years, and many pain sufferers have benefitted. However, the pills cause euphoria, which contributes to the problem of addiction. One doctor even prescribed Oxycodone to a 50-year-old who had become addicted to it in the past and told the doctor so.

As Candy Finnegan also pointed out when I interviewed her, the article reminds readers that the intervention industry is not regulated so families have to do their research when selecting an interventionist. Families can contact rehab centers, who can usually recommend professionals, and should also ask anyone they’re thinking of hiring about his or her clinical experience. And even though one family in the article chose to include a young child in an intervention, the author includes a word of caution about doing this.

It’s an interesting—and cautionary—article. Wish I’d written it!

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