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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Addiction in Middle Age

I seldom allow rehab centers to have links from my blog to there site if they do not have a family program on their agenda. However, after exchanging many e-mails and lots of thought, I'm allowing Shadow Mountain Recovery to submit the below post which contains a link to their website. Although they do not have a family program yet, the rest of the program seems to fit my requirements for a rehab facility.

My theory is if they get enough requests for a family program, they will start one. An e-mail to their director may help that along a bit.

If you have been to this facility, please comment with a reveiw. Thanks.


Addiction in Middle Age
By Emma Wilson

Addiction isn’t just a problem for youth—at least, not anymore. The trend of drug-related overdoses and deaths is rising among adults even while it declines among adolescents. Today, middle-aged adults are more at risk than any other segment of the population. It’s time we recognize this problem and take action!

Who Is at Risk?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the baby boomer generation is especially affected by harder drug use. Why? Both cultural and economic reasons play a part: many of today’s middle-aged population were exposed to drugs at younger ages due to cultural shifts in the 1960s and 1970s (think Woodstock!).

As such, some adults have long-standing addictions that require substances of increasing potency to produce the same “high.”

In addition, the simple economic truth is that a greater number of drugs are more widely available today. And adults entering middle age often have more disposable income—more than their children or grandchildren—leaving them better able to afford an addiction. This includes everything from so-called “hard” street drugs to cigarettes at the local gas station.

Just as we care for young people, adults also need help to recognize symptoms of substance abuse to treat these harmful and potentially life-threatening addictions. The more aware we are of drug dependence and addiction, the more we can help.

Common Addictions

Alcohol. Although the highest percentage of heavy (or binge) alcohol use is among college-aged students, studies show that over 50% of those from 35–60 years of age still report current heavy and binge drinking within the past 30 days.

Why is this a problem? Even though alcohol is legal, heavy drinking leads to a host of undesirable personal and health related outcomes: increased levels of divorce, financial instability, and personal violence included. Of particular note, alcohol-related deaths are on the rise among this population segment—data from the U.S. government indicates that heavy drinking can shorten a life span by as much as 30 years.

Prescription pain medications. As stated here, prescription drug abuse is the leading type of drug abuse among middle aged Americans. Drugs commonly prescribed to relieve pain, such as morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and a host of other opioids (opium-derived drugs), can become addicting. Speak openly with your doctor about the dangers of such medication. Be aware that the possibility for addiction is especially high if use continues for anxiety and stress relief beyond the prescribed medicinal use.

Avoid the temptation of drug abuse by throwing away medicines after their prescription has expired. If this is too difficult, have a trusted family member or friend do this for you. Abuse of prescription medication is dangerous especially because it can serve as a gateway drug to illegal substances and even petty theft.

Tobacco. We know that tobacco occurs in many forms and is used widely. Nicotine levels—the most addicting part—vary by product, but all are dangerous for health and are generally habit-forming. There are significant health risks, as tobacco use harms every organ in the body, leading to cancer, respiratory problems, and even decreased fertility in both men and women.

The good news: quitting is possible. Some studies suggest that there are more former smokers than current smokers living in the U.S. right now!

Hard Drugs. Those who develop dependence to “lesser” drugs (nicotine, alcohol, or prescription medication) often move on to even more harmful and addictive substances in order to get the same “high.” These include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, LSD, and a host of other street drugs—and they each have serious side effects.

The health risks of using drugs are obvious. But use of these drugs is also correlated with increased criminal activity and negatively affects many aspects of ordinary life, including jobs and relationships.

What Will Happen?

If society at large ignores the trend of addictions among adults, the proper steps towards prevention won’t be taken. Ultimately, crime rates and drug-related deaths will continue to increase in the older adult population, especially hitting the baby boomer generation hard. Lifespan expectations may decrease along with quality of life for the older generation.

But there is hope!

Full recovery is possible, even for those with long-standing drug habits. Studies have shown that older adults have higher long-term rates of recovery after treatment and are better able to remain drug and alcohol free. As Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of the National Drug Control Policy, put it, “substance use disorders are diseases that can be prevented, [and] treated, and from which people can recover.”

Recovery

There are many meaningful steps toward recovery from addiction, at any age.

• Choose someone to be accountable to. Unlike an adolescent, you aren’t likely to be living with or even near your parents, so find someone you trust and see regularly—spouse, child, co-worker, or other friend. Tell them about your history of addiction and work together towards transparency. If you relapse, report to them immediately.

• Seek professional help, including health professionals and rehabilitation programs at a treatment center when appropriate. Having this level of support can help you make hard choices and change the direction of your life, which is difficult to do alone.

• Understand the signals. Pay attention to proper dosing levels on all prescription drugs, and talk to your doctor if you feel uncomfortable with the side effects or begin to feel dependent on any medication.

• Make meaningful goals (both related to addiction and to other areas of your life—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual) and progress towards them.

As real as drug dependence can be, so are the numerous success stories of those who have recovered from substance addiction. Even if substance abuse has been a part of your life for decades, you can do it too!


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