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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Senior Drug and Alcohol Abuse on the Rise

Pill Addiction 1The topic of drug abuse is often one that is associated with youth. However, substance abuse among America’s aging population is a growing concern. In fact, nearly 22 percent of senior citizens confess that they drink each and every day. Many of the elderly are also taking a prescription medication of sorts, a potentially lethal combination that’s certainly cause for alarm.

Recent figures show that alcohol abuse rates for those over age 65 hover around 17 percent.  Senior substance abuse may stem from a variety of life circumstances. The following can all be triggers in the absence of proper coping skills:

 

  • Death of a spouse
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of purpose after retirement
  • Sleep problems
  • Chronic illness

 

According to information published in the journal Geriatrics, the problem only stands to get worse. By 2020, elderly figures for abuse are expected to be twice what they are now due to a combination of lifestyle and attitude differences and the increasing number of baby boomers entering retirement.
But alcohol isn’t the only culprit. According to the Geriatrics report, prescription drugs are at high risk of abuse among the elderly – more so than in generations past, especially if alcohol is involved.

Not surprisingly, seniors aren’t likely to be peddling on the streets for drugs. Instead, their sources are closer to home – namely well-meaning family or friends who share medications or doctors who fail to realize the potential for misuse. Commonly abused prescription drugs by the aged include benzodiazepines and opiates. “Benzos” such as Valium and Xanax are frequently prescribed for depression and anxiety, while opiates like OxyContin and Percocet are used to treat ongoing pain.

A caretaker who suspects abuse should contact the individual’s healthcare provider. Some common warning signs of abuse are:

  • Irritability or appearing disoriented
  • Seclusion
  • Sudden changes in sleep, eating habits, or weight
  • Depression or loss of interest in things once important
  • Falls or unusual bruising

 

At FamilyGuidanceCenter, we understand that mental health plays an integral role in the overall picture of wellness. That’s why our treatment program offers a coordinated care approach that includes attention by mental health experts as well as physicians and other team members. With assistance from FamilyGuidanceCenter, it’s possible to enjoy a rewarding life, regardless of age. Visit our website for more information about local treatment plans.

The Rise in Youth Cases of ADHD

ADHD 12If you’re a parent, you may be concerned about the prevalence of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Whether there truly are more occurrences or if greater awareness has led to increased diagnoses, statistics show that the annual number of cases of ADHD has been on the rise for several years.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, approximately 11 percent of kids living in the U.S. between the ages of four and 17 are affected by ADHD. This represents a 42 percent increase over figures reported by parents in 2003. CDC epidemiologist and lead study author, Susanna Visser confirms the growing trend which has resulted in about 6.1 percent of children being placed on medication for relief of symptoms.

Visser says the results of the study are consistent with large-scale studies done on children at the community level. Current figures show that as many as one in 10 children attending primary school already meet the criteria outlined for clinical diagnosis of ADHD. While this may seem unsettling, many parents will be happy to know that they have other treatment options aside from medication, which is usually reserved for severe cases or as children get older. In fact, the main source of treatment recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is behavioral therapy.

According to the study, children are being diagnosed with ADHD at a younger age than in the past. Fifty percent of severe cases were identified by age four, while half of all childhood ADHD cases studied were diagnosed at six years of age. According to Visser, this means greater opportunity to address the issue with behavior therapy while still in its infancy.

Despite a growing number of youth being diagnosed and treated for the disorder, experts suspect that there are still a lot of children who are falling through the cracks. The report points to the fact that the number of those diagnosed with ADHD is still greater than those who are receiving treatment. The extent to which stigma stands as a barrier to treatment is still widely unknown.

For years, Family Guidance Center has been working with children and teens affected by mental illness. The Children and Youth Services program offers diagnosis and learned disease management techniques that have helped many to function better at home and at school. To learn more about Family Guidance Center’s innovative treatment options for youth, visit our website at www.familyguidance.org.

How Does Mental Illness Impact Rates of Homelessness?

The link between mental illness and homelessness is strong in our country. Certain types of mental illness can make it difficult to hold down a job, manage one’s finances, or apply healthy coping skills when life seems to be spiraling out of control.

Turning a blind eye or pretending the situation doesn’t exist only promises to make it worse. Each yearHomeless 2 the number of homeless individuals rises, making it difficult for mental health centers and local shelters to accommodate those in need. While mental illness increases a person’s risk of homelessness in America threefold, there is now a new victim – children and young adults of parents who are having difficulty making ends meet.

In Massachusetts alone, the homeless population numbers close to 20,000 people, an increase of 14 percent since the year 2010. More alarming, the number of preschool to high school-aged students in the state without shelter is twice what it was just 10 years ago.

In small towns, the problem may not be as evident. However, in cities like Berkeley, California, it’s not uncommon to have up to 1,200 individuals making their bed on the streets each night. Studies show that approximately 33 percent of our nation’s homeless live with a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia for which they are not receiving treatment.

Treating mental illness is not a one-and-done resolution. In California, about 25 percent of those released from a mental health facility eventually ends up homeless. In New York, that figure rises to 38 percent after only six short months of discharge. Sadly, the combination of mental illness and homelessness too often creates the perfect storm for incarceration, which further decreases a person’s chance of receiving proper treatment and can lead to future re-offenses.

Family Guidance Center wants to help break the cycle. Learn the facts about mental illness, and support local efforts to stamp out homelessness. If you know someone who could benefit from mental health services, contact Family Guidance Center.