Now that you are an adult and your parents are older, it may become your responsibility to care of them. Even if they don’t need round-the-clock care, it is important that you make sure your parents are happy and healthy and living well.
Part of that means watching for signs of drug abuse and protecting them from the risk of getting hooked on drugs.
It may seem like a worry you should never have to consider, but the truth is that drug abuse among older Americans is on the rise. Here’s how you can protect your parents.
Protecting Your Parents From Addiction
To protect parents from the dangers of substance abuse, it’s important that you understand the issue. Educate yourself about senior substance abuse and addiction so you are aware of the risks and the signs. Although it’s surprising, substance abuse among seniors is not that unusual. In fact, it is a growing phenomenon. Estimates show that by 2020, the number of older Americans needing treatment for a substance use disorder will have doubled. Just a few years ago, nearly five percent of adults over 50 were abusing drugs or alcohol.
There are several reasons older Americans are susceptible to substance abuse. One is access to prescriptions. Nearly one-third of prescriptions in the U.S. are written to people over 50. Becoming dependent on habit-forming prescriptions is more likely the more they are prescribed. Seniors are also more likely than younger people to experience certain social factors that may contribute to substance abuse: social isolation, a feeling of uselessness after retirement, the loss of a spouse, and depression.
Talk About Drug Abuse
Armed with the facts, start a discussion with your parents. It may be awkward or uncomfortable at first, but knowledge is power. If you can make your parents understand how risky it can be to abuse their prescriptions or to drink too much, they will likely make better decisions. They may also be unaware just how their emotional health impacts the choices they make regarding substances. Encourage your parents to get involved in social activities and to talk to you if they are feeling lonely, depressed or sad.
Help Manage Prescriptions
Abuse of prescriptions by seniors is often unintentional. Many get hooked simply because they need a drug, like a painkiller, to feel better and then use of it spirals out of control. With many different prescriptions, which is common with seniors, it can get confusing. Your parents may end up making mistakes with doses and combinations. Go to appointments with your parents and take careful notes about medications, dosages and interactions. Help your parents organize medications and monitor their drugs to be sure they are taking them correctly.
Monitor Behaviors And Get Help
Drug abuse has telltale signs, no matter the age of the user. Spend time with your elderly parents and watch for changes in health or behaviors that trouble you. Drug or alcohol abuse can cause changes in sleeping habits or appetite, irritability or anxiousness, confusion, and an increased number of falls. You know your parents, and if anything changes that makes you uncomfortable, be suspicious.
If you do suspect substance abuse in a parent, don’t hesitate to get help. Treatment options are available and seniors are more open to them than you might think. The good news is that statistics show that patients over 50 are the most successful when it comes to getting addiction treatment. Be there for your parents, guide them, educate them and help them when they need it so that you will have many more years to enjoy spending time together.
Get The Know-How On Why Substance Abuse Is Rising Among Seniors
30 Oct 2014
Dating can be tough. You meet all kinds of people in bars and clubs and maybe you meet some real strange characters in online dating as well. What happens when you meet a recovering addict? Is that a deal breaker or should you consider getting to know him better? The choice is a personal one, but before you dive head first into a relationship with a recovering addict you should be ready for what lies ahead. It could be the real deal, or it could end up being a nightmare relationship.
Realization With And Support For Your Recovering Partner
The first thing you should know about dating an addict is that he is, in fact, an addict. Addiction is a lifelong disease and even if he has been sober for years, a relapse is always possible. Also know that love does not conquer all, especially real world problems like addiction.
Your recovering addict partner will need your support, and as much as you love him, he will try your patience at times. Sometimes love is not enough to make a relationship work in the face of real problems. If you understand these realities and accept them, you may be ready to start dating a recovering addict.
Tips For Dating An Addict In Recovery
Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you take this journey:
- Look for honesty – The fact that someone has struggled with addiction need not be a red flag or a relationship ender. What is important is his honesty and openness. If he has been up front with you about his past struggles it shows that he has largely overcome them and is not ashamed. He has done good work and is willing to share that with you. This is a good sign.
- Be open – You also need to be open about his past. Talk about how it makes you feel and what your concerns are. He should be willing to discuss it with you and can likely allay some of your fears. Starting out on your relationship with solid, open communication will help you have a stronger partnership when times get rocky.
- Find the limits – Some recovering addicts cannot be around drugs or alcohol at all. Make sure you know whether you need to refrain from drinking in front of him and be prepared to make those accommodations if necessary.
- Learn the signs of substance abuse – Relapse is always possible, no matter how put together he seems now. Make sure you know the signs of a slip up so that you can be prepared if he relapses and starts using again. It may be obvious, but he may also be subtle about it. Try not to be over-vigilant, but do be aware of changes and what they might mean.
- Volunteer for therapy – If your partner is still attending therapy sessions or occasional counseling, be ready to join in. Offer to go along if he needs or wants you to. It may be a personal experience for him, but he might also want you to be involved. Be open to the experience.
- Take care of yourself – There will be times when dating a recovering addict is stressful for you. Being caring is important, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take time off to be alone and to do things that keep you happy and sane whenever you need it.
Make Sure He Meets Your Needs Too And Understand The Challenges
Dating a recovering addict is not impossible, but it may represent an additional relationship challenge. The important thing is that you find someone who meets your needs. If that person happens to be an addict in recovery, understand the unique challenges and be ready to meet them.
Learn More About Addicts And Their Excuses
Holistic medicine is a style of treatment, for any condition, that involves treating more than the condition itself. The philosophy of holistic medicine is to treat the whole person. This means treating the physical body, the mind and mental health, and the spirit (or soul). Holistic practitioners believe that specific conditions are related to a variety of ways you live and environmental exposure. Practitioners treat nearly every type of medical condition, including addiction. Should you try it?
What Makes Medicine Holistic?
Holistic sounds like something new age and experimental, but it is a type of medical practice that has been around for many years. It simply means treating the whole person, rather than just treating the disease. For instance, if you have high blood pressure, a doctor might prescribe a medication to lower it. A holistic practitioner would look at all your lifestyle factors that contribute to high blood pressure. Instead of medication as a first approach, a holistic provider might have you exercise more, lose weight, change your diet and practice meditation or yoga.
Some of the techniques a holistic practitioner might use that are outside the bounds of traditional medicine include:
- Mindfulness therapy
- Yoga and exercise
- Herbal supplements
Does Holistic Medicine Help Addicts?
Unfortunately, the research on holistic medicine and how it can help addicts is slim. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that holistic practices help any better than other treatments. This doesn’t mean that they can’t help you, however. The best kind of addiction treatment program is one that is tailored to meet your individual needs. If meditation or prayer calm your mind and make you feel fewer urges to relapse, then it works for you.
Can I Use Holistic Medicine Alone?
You can try holistic medicine without any other types of addiction treatment, but most experts would not recommend it, especially if you have a severe addictive disorder. Many of the techniques used in holistic medicine can help you, but alone are not proven to help addicts get sober. The best way to get into recovery is to use a comprehensive plan of treatment designed for you by an addiction expert who understands your needs. The best treatment programs are individualized but include some kind of therapy or counseling, group support and social interaction and medicines where appropriate.
Is Holistic Medicine Right For Every Addict?
Not everyone will find success with a holistic approach, but many do. The key to finding the type of treatment that works best for you and helps you to get sober is trying different things. Almost all holistic practices are safe for everyone, so there are few reasons you shouldn’t try working with a holistic practitioner. Just be sure to find one that is experienced in working with addicts, is licensed and trained, and comes with excellent references. No type of treatment will help you if you are in the hands of an irresponsible or untrained care provider.
Holistic medicine is a field of health care that is growing in popularity as people begin to lose faith in traditional medicine. There is no reason you shouldn’t try working with a holistic practitioner, but remember that you have a serious medical condition. You need to seek the help of experienced professionals who know how to work with addiction and who will be committed to your wellness and success.
Learn More About How To Use Activities To Help Overcome Addiction
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Support group membership can be an important part of your recovery from addiction. Experts agree that there are several important elements to effective treatment for addiction. One of those elements must address the social needs of the addict. You can and should go through individual counseling and other types of treatment, but you also need social support. A support group is a great way to get that aspect of treatment.
Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Support Group
When you join a support group, make sure you make the most of the experience.
1. Finding A Support Group
The first important step in having a positive support group experience is finding the right one for you. Don’t be afraid to try a few meetings with different groups to choose the one you like best. There is no rule that says you have to commit to a group after attending just one meeting. Contact community centers, religious organizations, your local library and the local newspaper to find available support groups. You can also speak to your doctor or search online for available groups.
2. Participating In A Support Group
Once you have found a group you like and in which you feel comfortable, start attending meetings regularly. You won’t get much support if you only go to meetings sporadically. You need to develop a rapport with your fellow members, get to know them and let them get to know you, even if it is anonymous. Participating is important too. It’s ok to just listen at first. You may not feel comfortable speaking up right away, but push yourself to start participating after a few meetings. You will get the most benefit from your group when you start to talk and share.
3. Be Honest And Open
An important reason for anonymity in support groups is that it helps everyone to feel better about opening up and sharing. You will get the most out of your experience if you don’t hold back. When it’s time to tell your story, be open, tell the truth and share as much about your experience as you can. Speaking out loud about what you have been through is a powerful tool for healing. The experience of being supported and comforted by those around you is restorative.
4. Work With A Sponsor
Support groups offer more than just a crowd to hear your stories and to which you can listen. They also offer the possibility of developing a meaningful relationship with a sponsor. Working with someone who has been in your position and who has more sober years than you is a wonderful tool for your own sobriety. This relationship can be long term and can be something you turn to in your times of need.
5. Get Involved
A support group is also a great way to get involved in something positive. Replacing your old, bad habits with new activities that have a positive impact on your life is an important step toward long-term sobriety. Get involved in organizing meetings and other events. Volunteer your time and talents to making the group more successful. When you’re ready, volunteer to be a sponsor and help someone else who desperately needs it.
Support groups are powerful instruments for lasting change, but only when you immerse yourself in the experience. Sporadic attendance and weak participation will only take you so far. To really get the most out of a support group you need to attend regularly, get involved, work with a sponsor and open up to your fellow members while also listening to their stories.
I Think I Feel Better … How to Know If Your Therapy Is ‘Working’
27 Oct 2014
Of all the arguments against decriminalizing cannabis and the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, the one that many have failed to discuss is the possibility of increased access to synthetic marijuana. This lab-produced cannabis has been popular with young people for many years. Although law enforcement has cracked down on synthetic products and lawmakers have tried to outlaw them, synthetic marijuana is making a comeback. Everyone, especially parents of teens and pre-teens, need to know about this drug and how dangerous it is.
What Is Synthetic Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana, or synthetic cannabis, is a product made in a lab. It is not natural, but it is supposed to mimic the natural cannabis plant. Cannabis contains thousands of compounds, called cannabinoids, which produce the mind-altering effects people seek when smoking pot. There are many ways in which these compounds can be mimicked with lab-made compounds. Many of the fake compounds have been ruled illegal, but the manufacturers can still come up with more options, keeping their products technically legal.
Synthetic Marijuana Dangers
One of the main reasons these synthetic products are so dangerous is because the user never knows exactly what he is getting. Because the product changes so much, it is impossible to know what is in it. In addition to the cannabis-like compounds, there may be any number of other chemicals, and even herbs used to look like dried marijuana. Users have been made very ill from using synthetic products, while some have become addicted and some have even died.
Side Effects Of Synthetic Marijuana
The side effects of synthetic marijuana vary because of the unknown composition of the products, and they can range from mild to severe to fatal. Some of these side effects include:
- severe anxiety
- high blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- muscle spasms
- suicidal thoughts
- heart attack
Synthetic cannabis has also been seen to cause withdrawal symptoms in frequent users and it can become addictive.
While the use of synthetic marijuana products has dropped overall as laws changed to try to outlaw them, they are making a comeback. One reason may be the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes. These are electronic devices that allow users to “vape” rather than smoke nicotine. They were designed to help smokers quit, but are increasingly being abused. E-cigarettes use vials of liquid with dissolved nicotine. Users exhale only water vapor. Those abusing them are using synthetic cannabinoids in the vials instead of nicotine in order to get a high. The scary thing is that the exhalation doesn’t smell like anything. The user can get high anywhere without anyone realizing it.
Latest Concern Of Synthetic Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana for e-cigarettes is just the latest concern when it comes to synthetic cannabis products. These products have been around for at least a decade and while their popularity was waning, teens are getting back into using them. Synthetic marijuana is no safer than it has ever been and both parents and teens need to be aware of the risks.
If You Are Concerned With Your Teen’s Substance Abuse, Call Us Now – We Are Here For You Anytime, Day Or Night
24 Oct 2014
If you have ever had a pet—a dog, cat, lizard or even just a goldfish, you know that they can help you feel calm, joyful, loved and needed. Caring for an animal and loving and being loved by one is powerful. Using animals in therapy sessions, or even just to calm patients’ nerves in a dentist’s office, has long been a tool in the arsenal of health care providers. With this in mind, consider getting a pet to help the recovering addict in your household. The responsibility of caring for an animal and the unconditional love it will provide could be greatly beneficial.
To understand why having a pet could help the recovering addict you care about, it’s important to learn a little bit about how therapists have used animals to help patients. Patients with a range of illnesses and conditions can benefit from having an animal involved in therapy. This includes children who have suffered from abuse, people with mental health conditions, patients undergoing painful and stressful medical procedures, people facing the stress and fear of terminal illness and even addicts.
Research has uncovered what humans have long known: being around animals is good for us. Even for healthy people, animals make us feel happier and more relaxed. We even know from research that simply petting a dog can lower blood pressure dramatically. Being around and touching animals has also been shown to raise levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which makes us feel happier and more loving.
Bringing A Pet Home For A Recovering Addict
With the benefits of being around animals in mind, consider bringing a pet into your household if you are caring for a recovering addict. A dog or cat, or even a bird or fish, has the potential to bring joy, purpose and meaning back into the life of your loved one. You can choose the level of care and responsibility needed by selecting the right pet. A dog is a great choice if your loved one is active and capable of taking care of a dog’s many needs. If your loved one doesn’t seem ready for a dog, a cat or other pet could be a good choice.
If you decide bring a pet home, get your recovering addict involved every step of the way. Let her help in the decision-making and learn with her how to care for the new pet. Being a part of the process will give her a sense of responsibility, a new purpose and a greater sense of self-worth. The love that she gets in return will be a powerful motivator to stay clean and sober.
Pets Are A Responsibility
As you make the choice about getting a pet to help your loved one, keep in mind that pets are a responsibility. A pet needs a person to care for him and will depend on that person. If you are unsure whether your recovering addict is up for the task, be prepared to step in and care for the animal and all his needs. If you are not prepared to do this, you may not be ready to welcome home a pet.
Rescue Pets – Tools For Healing And Recovery
Animals are powerful tools for healing. To help the recovering addict in your household, consider rescuing a pet. Check out your local animal shelter to find a cat, dog or other animal that needs someone as much as your loved one needs to care for a pet. You may both be surprised at how much healing power comes in a small, furry package.
23 Oct 2014
Knowing when to walk away from an addict in your life is difficult, but there is an appropriate time to say enough is enough. The exact timing depends on you and the addict in your life. It is a personal choice to let go of this friendship or to cut this family member out and this is one decision that only you can make.
When you have exhausted your ability to help your loved one and he still won’t make any changes or even admit to having a problem, it’s time to at least consider walking away. You can’t make anyone change. Only he can make that ultimate choice.
Reasons To Cut Addict Out Of Your Life
As you contemplate your next move, here are some important reasons to cut an addict out of your life:
- You have devoted a huge amount of time and energy trying to help your loved one, to no avail. – You’ve learned about addiction to try to understand what your loved one is going through. You staged an intervention and brought in a number of friends and family members to try to reach him. You spent countless hours trying to convince your friend that he has a problem and needs help. You set limits and boundaries and he continues to cross them. When your efforts are monumental and met with nothing but resistance, it may be time to move on.
- Your friend has taken advantage of your charity. – It’s important for addicts to have friends and family members to support them, but when the addict still refuses to change and starts to take advantage, you have a problem on your hands. Not only is your loved one hurting you, but you have also become an enabler. Maybe he is taking your financial support, which you thought was helping him keep his apartment, and is spending it on drugs. Maybe he has stolen from you. Decide how much of this you can take and then change your locks and cut him off.
- Your loved one has become violent or frightens you. – The moment you feel your safety has been threatened, either by your loved one or his friends or acquaintances, tell him it’s over for now. Your safety should never be compromised by someone you love, no matter the situation. Take a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to violence or threats.
- Your health—emotional, physical or mental—is suffering. – Loving someone who is addicted can take a huge toll on your health. If your loved one’s situation is causing you increased levels of stress, to the point that it is causing physical symptoms, sleep loss, or other major issues, you have to consider making a change for your own well-being. You can’t help someone when you aren’t well yourself. Take time off to get better and then consider trying to help again.
Make The Decision But Offer Support If Your Loved One Gets Addiction Treatment Help
Cutting someone out of your life is a tough choice to make, but is sometimes inevitable. It’s important to try to help those you love, but you have to set limits and you have to consider yourself and your own well-being. Also know that this doesn’t have to be permanent. Tell your loved one that you are saying goodbye for now, but that if he can get his act together you will be back to fully support him in his sobriety. This should be a decision you make for yourself, but it may also turn out to be the motivation he ultimately needs to make that change.
Learn More About The Intervention Process And Steps
22 Oct 2014
Alcoholism is a disease. It is chronic and it requires lifelong treatment to stay sober. While going through rehab and staying sober are challenging, the first and biggest step for an alcoholic is to get past the excuses and admit to having a problem with drinking.
Heavy drinkers deny having a problem for a variety of reasons. They fear what happens in detox. They worry about what people will say. Most of all they fear what life will be like sober.
In spite of the fears, it is important for alcoholics to get help. The consequences of not doing so may be serious.
Pregnant alcoholics risk fetal alcohol syndrome. All alcoholics face health consequences like liver or heart disease. Accidents are common among alcoholics. They also must face the possibility of losing relationships.
Excuses Of An Alcoholic
If you have a loved one who drinks too much, confront him or her. Be prepared to hear this list of excuses alcoholics give to explain drinking:
- I need to drink to feel comfortable in social situations – Many people face social anxiety. It is a real disorder, in fact. It is not uncommon to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, but it is not a good excuse. Self-medicating is dangerous. Therapy can help anyone overcome social anxiety.
- I’m only hurting myself – Addicts are great at claiming that their habit is their own business. Remind your loved one that drinking affects everyone else too. When drinking makes the alcoholic remote, angry or temperamental, everyone suffers. When drinking costs the family money, everyone suffers.
- I need alcohol to cope with work stress – This is a common excuse. Stress relief is an important part of being healthy and a drink or two on tough days does not make one an alcoholic. Many jobs are stressful and drinking feels good. This may be why there is so much alcoholism in the healthcare field and other high-stress careers. It isn’t an excuse for heavy drinking, though. There are many other ways to cope with stress.
- This is just who I am – This excuse is an outright lie. Alcoholics weren’t born drinking. They change to become an alcoholic and they can change again to get sober.
- I’m not as bad as other people – Comparing a drinking problem to a worse problem in someone else is a very weak excuse for drinking. Being an alcoholic exists outside of everyone else. When considering a personal problem, like drinking, it makes no difference what everyone else is doing.
Professional And Caring Help Is Needed
The list of excuses that alcoholics make could go on and on forever. They will come up with anything under the sun to justify continuing to drink and to avoid getting help. When the excuses finally run out, you can hopefully convince your loved one to get much-needed help. Only professional therapy and counseling, along with your support, will be enough to overcome all the excuses.
See How To Recognize The Signs Of Addiction Denial In A Loved One
If Your Loved One Needs Help With A Drinking Problem, Reach Out To Us Today – We Will Help You And Your Loved One Take That First Step!