Look out: The Baby Boom Generation has reached retirement age, and once again it is causing demographic upheaval. In the field of addiction treatment, boomers are accounting for a rising number of clients, and, as in years past, they are presenting special challenges.
Number of Boomers in Treatment Expected to Grow
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the baby boom generation (born 1946-1964) has a much higher rate of alcohol and illicit drug use as they age than generations preceding them. The survey authors estimate that some 5.7 million adults 50 and older will need drug or alcohol treatment by the year 2020.
60’s & 70’s Drug Culture Is Not the Only Reason
While it is true that baby boomers had a high rate of illicit drug use when they were young, other factors are contributing to problem usage now that they are aging.
- Declining Health: Many adults over 50 experience problems with chronic disease or injury and take prescribed medications for those conditions. Others may self-prescribe painkillers or alcohol to ease the aches and pains that are a part of aging.
- Emotional Problems: Divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss, and even retirement may leave older adults feeling depressed, lonely, withdrawn, and bored. To alleviate these feelings, they may return to heavy drinking or to using drugs that they had experimented with when they were young.
- Family Responsibilities: Many baby boomers find themselves facing retirement with declining financial assets and growing family responsibilities. Some boomers are helping to care for elderly parents and also helping to raise grandchildren. They may begin to drink or use drugs as a way to deal with these stresses.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Addicted Boomers
Older Americans present special problems for addiction treatment, but they are usually well-motivated and have a high probability of recovery. It is important to remember, though:
- Symptoms used to diagnose alcohol and drug use are also symptoms of aging.
- Diagnosis is complicated by drugs prescribed for chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
- Many older Americans who are high-functioning alcoholics and drug users are reluctant to accept help.
- Baby boomers often do not respond well in mixed-age support groups. They achieve the best results in individual therapy and peer support groups.
Drug Treatment Programs for Older Adults
Older adults require addiction treatment that is tailored to their generation and their specific needs. Coast to Coast Recovery preferred providers in FL and CA have programs geared to the lifestyle and special problems of retirees and seniors. If you have a loved one who has turned to alcohol or drugs in order to cope with the stresses of aging, call 800-210-8229 to speak with one of our trained interventionists. We’ll be by your side as you choose the best addiction care for your aging loved one.