Boomers and Addiction

Debra Jay was quoted in a very good article in the Pacific Standard, titled: “Are Substance Problems Among Older Americans a Looming Crisis?” The journalist asked good questions and put an appropriate focus on medication issues.

The article drives home the point that older substance abusers, like all addicts, are unlikely to seek help on their own. They’re also likely to avoid those who raise the issue with them, whether that person is a family member or physician. ““It is usually the adult children who decide to take action and help motivate an older parent to accept treatment, through either informal or formal intervention,” says Debra Jay.

“As is true for adolescents, this age group has unique needs,” says Jay. “Typically, they progress more slowly through treatment and are facing issues specific to their stage of life: empty nest, change in roles (such as retirement), grief issues, body changes, cognitive deficiencies, limitations related to sight, hearing, and mobility.”

Debra Jay is the author of “Aging and Addiction: helping older adults overcome alcohol and medication dependence,” (Hazelden – with Carol Colleran). This book has been hailed as an indispensable guide for families and professionals dealing with chemical dependency in the boomer and boomer-plus population.

Barry McCaffrey, former Drug Czar, wrote the introduction to Aging and Addiction and said: “This superb book will help save lives. It’s that simple. Aging and Addiction is intelligent, readable, and well researched. Above all, it is an immensely compassionate book, which offers hope and direction to families and readers who have an older adult who is abusing alcohol or medications.”

“Older American adults who abuse or are addicted to alcohol or prescription medications are not failures. Most have raised wonderful families, retired from successful careers and community activities, and led energetic lives. They are suffering from a disease. As with any other physical illness, they can be helped to recover. However, many go without diagnosis or even minimal treatment from their doctors and the health care community.”

The Pacific Standard article puts emphasis on the important help boomers can find in 12 Step groups, which provides a new and positive opportunity for socialization and friendship. The article also puts the spotlight on the difficulty physicians have in saying No to patients who want drugs they’ve seen advertised in the media. Thanks to staff writer Chelsea Carmona of Pacific Standard and Substance for a great article.

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