Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Opioid Addiction Among Older Americans

opioid addiction
The “golden years” of one’s life ideally would be typified by spending time with grandchildren and spending time on the links. After all, you have earned it after decades working towards a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, older Americans are often set back by chronic pain, the lingering symptoms of an injury or just the byproduct of weathering life’s many storms. Back injuries and arthritis is particularly common among people in their 60’s and beyond.

Our interest in the trend of chronic pain among older Americans, as you can probably easily deduce, lies with how pain is managed in America—more times than not the solution rests with opioid painkillers. Given that much of the talk about the opioid epidemic in the United States is focused on young adults overdosing in record numbers, it can become easy to lose sight of the true scale and scope of the epidemic. It is important to understand that people from both ends of the adult spectrum have been touched by both opioid use disorder and opioid overdose death.


Eligible For An Overdose

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that nearly 14,000 (42 percent of the annual total) people who died from an opioid overdose were over the age of 45. The fact that older Americans are becoming addicted and dying from overdose made up nearly half of the death toll that year is certainly troubling, but what’s just as concerning is that that has not gained much attention.

"The deaths of older people are an untold part of it," Jeremiah Gardner tells AARP, public affairs manager of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy. 

The reality is that everyone is eligible for developing a dependence to a narcotic - old or young, rich or poor, white or black. Just because someone is experiencing regular symptoms of pain does not mean that the answer is always opioid painkillers. But, in the same year mentioned earlier, almost one-third of all Medicare patients (around 12 million people) received a prescription for opioids like OxyContin (oxycodone), according to AARP. In 2015, 2.7 million Americans over 50 painkillers were used in unintended ways, and in the past 20 years opioid abuse related hospitalizations of people over 65 quintupled.

Please take a moment to watch a video about older Americans affected by opioids narcotics:

If you are having troubling watching, please click here.


We Know How We Got Here, Now What?

The causes of the American prescription opioid addiction epidemic are aplenty. One of the major contributing factors is our over reliance of this class of drugs for practically all severities of pain. Researchers have yet to offer a viable, non-addictive alternative to date—which means prescribing trends will probably remain stable, at least among older Americans, whose health problems are objectively visible. However, what is done when opioid use disorder is identified will make all the difference in the fight to save lives.

Those who seek help in addiction treatment facilities, especially centers with specialty tracks like our own, greatly increase their chance of not becoming a statistic of the morbid side of this epidemic. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand that our older clients have specific needs that must be addressed, if successful outcomes are to be achieved. Our 30 day Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program is tailored to meet those needs, providing an intimate setting where clients are surrounded by a non-confrontational group of peers all working towards the goal of long-term recovery.

Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

PTSD Awareness Month 2017

On Monday, much of the nation observed Memorial Day. Historically, the day was a time for honoring the brave American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. While that is still the case, people who observe the holiday today often take a moment to also remember and honor those men and women who came home from overseas after their tours of duty. To be sure, and thankfully, those individuals are still with us. But one might find themselves wondering what Memorial Day has to do with those who survived? A question that could probably be answered in several ways.

That being said, it is an unfortunate fact that a significant young men and women come home after serving in armed conflict—changed. Some suffered serious physical injuries, and have scars to show what they went through. Whereas, others come back physically unchanged, but a have a hollow look in their eyes; the wounds they suffered are internal, and such injuries are the direct result of witnessing traumatic events. The experience of war can linger on in veterans for years to come, what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A condition which, for some, makes it almost impossible to have healthy relationships, hold employment and lead a fulfilling life.

Some veterans who come back from war with symptoms of PTSD receive treatment, and with continued maintenance do recover. The reality is that the clear majority of American servicemen and women living with post-traumatic stress are not getting the help they need. Such people often resort to drug and alcohol abuse to mitigate their symptoms. And, as a result, alcohol and substance use disorders are the byproduct of self-medication. Without treatment, the problem continues to untenable points, the substances no longer help and only serve to exacerbate the PTSD. A staggering number individuals with PTSD and a co-occurring substance use disorder, attempt and succeed at taking their own life. All of which could have been potentially avoided with treatment. With all this in mind, one could easily argue that those soldiers lost their life overseas.

PTSD Awareness Month 2017

Mental health disorders of any kind can dramatically disrupt the course of one’s life. Providing access to effective methods of treatment are paramount, not just for veterans but for anyone who has experienced trauma. As was pointed out earlier, left to one’s own devices self-medication often occurs, creating even more problems. It is absolutely vital that people experiencing symptoms of the disorder are encouraged to seek help.

June is PTSD Awareness Month, a time to encourage everyone to raise public awareness about PTSD and the treatments available. As with any form of mental illness, we can all have a hand in showing compassion and support, helping those who have been touched by PTSD.
“Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care." - Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD.
June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. For more information on how you can help people suffering from untreated PTSD, click here.


Holistic Treatment For Mental Health 

The therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment process at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat occurs within a holistic, cognitively-oriented framework. It is facilitated through educational, task oriented and process groups. Introduction to the twelve-step program and philosophy is a component of treatment. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today. Recovery is possible.