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Tag Archives: alcohol abuse

Alcohol Abuse Among Senior Adults

People Over Age 60 May Turn to Alcohol Abuse as Late Life Changes Occur

alcohol abuseAlcohol abuse is a real issue for a significant number of Americans over age 60. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2013) reported that more than 14 percent of people ages 60-64 engaged in binge drinking and close to five percent in that age range were regular heavy drinkers. Misuse of alcohol is an issue that can affect those of any age, even senior adults.

For many, alcohol abuse may start early in life and continue throughout adulthood. There are some, however, whose misuse begins much later and is referred to as late-onset alcoholism. This later-life alcohol abuse is often triggered by one or more of the many changes that come during these years. The empty nest and sudden change in family dynamics can prompt a change in drinking habits. So, too, can retirement and the loss of daily purpose and socialization, divorce or the death of a spouse, health issues and decline in income. Someone who never over-drank as a young person may find that they are turning to alcohol more in later life when confronted with one or more of these losses.

Maybe you never had a problem with alcohol abuse when you were younger, but recognize symptoms of alcohol abuse in your senior years. If you recognize these symptoms, if loved ones in your life or those you work with share concern about your drinking, if you drink more and sooner in the day than you plan or if you find yourself turning to alcohol on a regular basis to cope – please visit us at Family Guidance Center. Our mental health professionals are here to talk to you and help you with a treatment plan to start you on the road to recovery.

Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Signs of Alcohol Abuse to be Aware of

alcohol abuseAccording to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) around 80,000 American seniors engage in alcohol abuse. The actual number of seniors abusing alcohol could be higher since physicians may attribute signs of abuse such as depression, sleep problems, poor appetite or falling to normal symptoms associated with aging. Further, since many seniors may not mix socially as often as younger adults, alcohol abuse may not be quickly recognized by friends or co-workers.

You may be the only one watching for signs of alcohol misuse by a senior loved one, so know what to look for. Main signs of an alcohol abuse problem include finishing their drinks in rapid succession and becoming irritable or testy if they can’t drink every day. Other symptoms to watch for include a poor appetite, harming themselves when drinking or using alcohol to escape problems or in order to be able to cope with difficulty.

Another sign of alcohol abuse is hiding how much you drink so you may need to pay close attention in order to determine just how much your loved one is drinking. Older bodies do not metabolize alcohol as quickly or efficiently as younger ones.

Alcohol abuse is serious at any age. For seniors, it can aggravate existing health issues and may be deadly when combined with certain medications. If you suspect that your older loved one is abusing alcohol, help them to know that they are not alone and help is available. Contact us at Family Guidance Center. We can help you with advice on encouraging your loved one to seek help and we can help them learn how to break the habits of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Abuse is on the Rise but Many Don’t Seek Treatment

Close to One-Third of Americans Have an Alcohol Abuse History

alcohol abuseThe Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a new report which shows that nearly 30 percent of Americans have had an alcohol abuse problem at some point during their lifetime. The report also highlighted that barely 20 percent of those who abuse alcohol ever look for help.

The new statistics are based on the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. That survey included 36,000 interviews conducted between 2012-2013. The survey revealed that young singles are most affected by alcohol use disorder with 37 percent of those 18-29 and 34 percent of those 30-44 qualifying for the diagnosis. In keeping with prior research, men were more often affected than women.

One reason for the new figure may have to do with changes the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made to the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-V). In that edition the APA redefined the way alcohol abuse is diagnosed and labeled. The new DSM-V no longer makes a distinction between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency but combines the two under one title with 11 diagnostic criteria. Patients with two or more symptoms would qualify for the alcohol use disorder diagnosis.

Why do so few of those affected by alcohol misuse ask for help? It could be that there is still some stigma attached to the idea of alcohol abuse. It may also be that there is often another co-occurring mental health condition which prevents them from thinking clearly about the possibility of help. If someone you love is having a problem with alcohol, please contact us at Family Guidance Center. Help is available.

What Triggers Alcohol Abuse as a Coping Mechanism for Some People?

Research Suggests Alcohol Abuse May be Linked to Adverse Childhood

alcohol abuseFor many people drinking is used as a way to cope with stresses in their life. Too often, this leads to over-consumption. It may be problems at work or problems at home that feel unmanageable but, whichever it may be, alcohol abuse is not a healthy answer. What scientists don’t yet understand is why similar situations do not create similar stress responses in different people.

Some people with difficult marriages, stressful jobs or other challenges (health, financial) are able to find ways to cope which don’t involve excessive drinking. For other people, these same circumstances feel beyond control and alcohol abuse provides the escape they crave. What makes the difference?

Researchers hypothesize that part of the answer could reach back into a person’s early childhood. Numerous animal studies show a link between the lack of close parental bonding during infancy and greater alcohol consumption later on. The thought is that long-term stress in childhood could change the way a person’s stress responses operate throughout life. This would leave some individuals more stress-sensitive and therefore, perhaps, more susceptible to later alcohol abuse.

Risk factors are not determiners. Just because a person experiences a stressful childhood doesn’t guarantee that they will abuse alcohol. If they learn healthy coping skills or possess a strong social support network, then alcohol abuse is not a foregone conclusion.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn healthy coping skills. At Family Guidance Center our mental health professionals can help you learn positive ways of dealing with stress in your life. There is no way to remove stress from life, but there are healthy ways to handle stress. Whatever your current stresses may be, let us help you learn to deal with them in a way that will make you feel healthier and stronger.

Guarding Against Substance Abuse in Later Years

As the baby boomer generation heads into retirement, the country will be populated by a larger than ever demographic of older (over 55) citizens. The truth is that not all of those entering their golden years are prepared to handle the challenges of retirement and older age. AnRecovery 1 alarming number of seasoned citizens are turning to substance abuse as they begin to feel overwhelmed.

A Growing Problem

Close to 3 million older adults suffer from alcohol abuse, a figure that is expected to double to 6 million by 2020. And while most seniors take one or more legal prescription medications, the rate of illicit drug use increased more than double from 2002-2013. Substance abuse is becoming a growing problem among older Americans.

One decade-long study of 52-75 year olds has revealed that while retirement is a major contributor to substance abuse, it is not the sole factor. The end of a working career is just one significant change among a host of changes which take place as people transition into retirement age. Few are prepared to cope with the avalanche of change.

Many Changes in a Short Time Span
Lack of daily structure and work is certainly one tremendous adjustment created by retirement. But so is the resulting financial constraint most people face. At the same time, crumbling health, the loss of friends (through death or relocation) and lack of social connection combine to overwhelm those not prepared to deal with so much change and loss.

Awareness and Mental Health
Awareness is a powerful guard against substance abuse after retirement. Understanding the scope of change in advance can be preventive. Nonetheless, not until a person is in the midst of the change and loss can they truly understand its impact. If you are tempted to blunt the loneliness and sense of purposelessness created by retirement with alcohol or drugs, consider talking with someone instead.

Family Guidance has decades of experience helping individuals and families navigate through the troubled waters of loss, depression and change. It is possible to learn how to cope even with momentous changes. Let us show you how.