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Family Guidance Blog

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.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas Seeks Treatment For Alcohol Dependency

News 1Coming forward and confronting a problem with substance abuse can be difficult for anyone. But for someone in the public eye, that pressure is presumably amplified. Elizabeth Vargas, 51, long-time reporter for ABC News recently checked into a treatment facility for alcohol dependency.

ABC News was quick to voice its support for Vargas, who is also an anchor for 20/20 and has had a 20 year history in network news. The network is proud of Elizabeth’s bravery in confronting her illness and is ready to have her back says Jeffrey Schneider, spokesman for ABC News. Vargas is considered more like family than an employee of ABC News, where her work in the industry has earned her positive recognition.

Vargas’ network career began in 1993 with NBC before she later transitioned to ABC. Vargas was a familiar face on Good Morning America while Robin Roberts was away receiving bone marrow transplant. Many also know Vargas from World News Tonight where she worked as co-anchor with Bob Woodruff until he suffered a serious injury caused by an explosion while covering a story in Iraq.

Vargas says she hopes that by publically admitting her dependency and seeking help that she can encourage others dealing with alcoholism to also do the same. The reporter decided it was time to get professional help after she realized her reliance on the drug was growing increasingly stronger. She credits her strength to her family and friends who, like her employer, have supported her along the way. “…..we will support her in every way we can,” said Schneider.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., alcoholism affects nearly one out of every 12 adults in the United States, making it the most abused substance in the country.

Recovery is a daily journey, but one that doesn’t have to be walked alone. Family Guidance offers a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes options for both inpatient and outpatient care coupled with a social detoxification program. Visit familyguidance.org to learn more about beating dependency.



Women: When Does Alcohol Consumption Become Problematic?

While most experts agree that having an occasional drink is nothing to worry about, some wonder how much is too much.  The answer to that question really depends on a number of factors. For most women, one drink a day isn’t considered harmful, with one drink defined by experts as no more than one 12 ounce can of beer or a five ounce tumbler of wine. Of course, some people metabolize alcohol better than others, so drinking up to two beverages a day doesn’t necessarily constitute the definition of an alcoholic.

According to addiction specialist, Nancy Jarrell of Arizona psychiatric hospital, Sierra Tucson, problematic drinking is more defined in terms of three factors – compulsion, control, and consequences. A woman whose regular routine often involves alcohol, who frequently drinks more than intended and who experiences negative outcomes from her drinking should seek professional help.

Regardless of how often a woman drinks, other signs of a problem include risky behaviors related to alcohol such as promiscuity and dangerous driving, constantly saying things that are inappropriate, passing out, or frequently waking up with a hangover. The litmus test for alcohol is really about the harmful consequences it bears on the individual’s life.

Some woman may be more predisposed to problematic drinking than others. While external factors such as a stressful work environment may come into play, favorable family attitudes toward drinking, a history of mental disorders, and being around friends who drink all can elevate a person’s risk.

Daily alcohol consumption has also been linked with an increased risk for breast cancer. Anyone from neighbors, friends, parents, and coworkers can be affected by substance abuse. Each year Family Guidance helps 1,600 members of the community with counseling and programs that are integral for lasting recovery. If you suspect someone you know is living with addiction, urge him or her to contact Family Guidance Center for an overall approach to wellness that works.

National Recovery Month Observed in September

September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate the gains made by those in addiction Recovery 1recovery and to educate the public regarding how treatment plans and mental health services are helping to transform people’s lives each day for the better. For 24 years now, Recovery Month has been a period set aside to honor the achievements in substance abuse recovery.

Created in 1989 and originally known as TreatmentWorks! Month, the observance was initially meant to commemorate the work of professionals in the field of addiction recovery. In 1998 the name changed to National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (Recovery Month), and the observance grew to also honor the positive strides made by those individuals working through substance use disorders. Two years ago, the observance evolved again to incorporate all elements of behavioral health and is now celebrated as National Recovery Month (Recovery Month).

This year Recovery Month focuses on the elements of prevention as well as the many paths to treatment and recovery. Each of these together plays an important role helping to strengthen the potential for a rewarding and healthy life.

There are currently over 200 government organizations at all levels that have joined in partnership with various charitable organizations committed to furthering prevention as well as treatment and recovery services. Together they comprise the Planning Partners’ group which aids in awareness and the distribution of materials and promotional materials. These resources are then distributed to communities to help reach out to those in need.

Recovery from substance abuse can and does happen. Recovery Month helps spread the message that together we can make a positive impact on the lives of others by making programs for prevention, treatment, and recovery more accessible to the public.

Overcoming substance abuse and the process of recovery is not unlike managing chronic physical health problems such as diabetes or hypertension. For over 100 years Family Guidance has been working to eliminate stigma associated with substance use and other mental health disorders. To find out ways you can support your local community during Recovery Month, or if you know someone in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Family Guidance.


Fighting Alcohol Addiction – Four Ways You Can Help a Loved One

20501502_sNobody expects to wake up one morning only to realize that he or she is addicted to alcohol. But research shows that around 10 percent of Americans have a problem with alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease, and though many people have good intentions to remain sober, that can be difficult without proper treatment and support networks in place – similar to the steps that would be required to manage any other disease.

Alcoholism is often a family disease, meaning its effects are not self-contained or isolated to just the affected person. In fact, for every individual living with alcoholism, there are six or more people who are also impacted by the disease. This is why counseling and treatment often involve the entire family. If someone in your family needs help with alcoholism, there are things you can do aid in the recovery process.

  1. Express your feelings. Let your loved one know that you are concerned for his safety and well-being. By taking the first step and expressing your own feelings, you make it easier for others to do the same. Be prepared to confront denial, however, as many individuals living with alcoholism may have a difficult time admitting to even themselves (at least at first) that they have a problem.

  2. Encourage treatment. Many support groups like AA and Al-Anon exist to help those living with alcoholism and their families know that they are not alone. These groups improve odds of recovery as they foster feelings of acceptance and support.

  3. Offer support. Advise that you will do what it takes to help the affected person get better. Studies show that dependent individuals are more successful in their sobriety when they are surrounded by strong support systems. Additionally, those who stay sober for 12 consecutive months have good chance of staying clean for the remainder of their life.

  4. Stage an intervention. As a last resort, interventions can be beneficial for loved ones in denial or those who remain resistant to seeking treatment. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and symptoms cannot be ignored. Include people who are close to the individual and those who are more apt to sway their decision to get help.

Family Guidance Center can help steer you in the right direction regarding treatment and recovery for alcohol addiction. There are many reasons and factors why individuals use alcohol as a coping mechanism; there are also many effective strategies for successfully managing triggers for a lifetime. Family Guidance Center has trained professionals in the Addiction Treatment Services program who can help those living with alcoholism to enjoy a productive life free from addiction.