Wednesday, February 28, 2018

4 Substances Commonly Abused by Older Adults

older adult substance abuse
The baby boomer generation came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, an area marked by changing attitudes toward drug and alcohol use, and substance use disorder has remained prevalent among this population as they’ve aged. In fact, substance use disorder rates among those 50 and older are expected to increase from about 2.8 million in 2006 to 5.7 million in 2020.

Here’s a look at four substances that are most commonly abused by older adults:

1. Alcohol

Although the rates of illicit and prescription drug misuse among adults over 65 are on the rise, alcohol is still the most commonly used substance among older adults, so much so that it is referred to as an invisible epidemic.

Most existing research on substance use among older adults centers on alcohol use. Although research suggests that light to moderate alcohol consumption offers some health benefits, risky or heavy drinking is associated with increased risk of falls and mortality, and it also indicates a broader pattern of other health risks, including a history of alcohol abuse or dependence, smoking, and major depression.

2. Tobacco

Teenagers’ attitudes toward tobacco have shifted in recent years, and overall tobacco use has hit a record low, but tobacco use among older adults is still quite common. 14% of adults ages 65 and older report having used tobacco within the last 12 months.

Smoking is particularly dangerous for older smokers who are at an increased risk of health problems, including respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Tobacco use may be down among younger age groups, but aging baby boomers are likely to spike the total number of older adults who need smoking cessation services in the next several years.

3. Marijuana

Illicit substance use is more prevalent among older adults in the United States than in any other country in the world. Marijuana remains, by and far, the most prevalent illicit substance used. The number of adults ages 65 and older who reported marijuana use increased by 250% between 2006 and 2013. The legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana have contributed to more lax attitudes toward the substance, and more older adults may use it to manage illness-related side effects, which can lead to recreational use.

4. Prescription Opioids

Prescription drug abuse is a public health emergency but rarely does the conversation mention older adults. Older adults report misusing painkillers more than any other type of prescription drug. According to an AARP survey, “The prevalence of older adults who reported misusing painkillers in the past year is about 1 percent among adults 65 and older and less than 4 percent among adults 50 to 64.” Those numbers are particularly concerning when you consider that 51% of adults ages 50-64 and 70% of adults ages 65 and older got painkillers from their doctor.

Opioid use among older adults may increase the risk of falls, fractures, delirium, pneumonia and all-cause mortality. The rate of opioid-related hospitalizations among older adults ages 65-84 quintupled between 1993 and 2012.

Substance use, especially prescription drug use, is a growing concern among all ages, especially older adults. Recovery is possible, but it requires a treatment plan that is structured around the needs of this unique age group. Hemet Valley Recovery Center offers an Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program that encompasses interdisciplinary care administered by a team of experienced physicians, registered nurses, therapists and dieticians.

We believe in the efficacy of our Older Adult Program and want it to be accessible to all because it’s never too late to get treatment. We accept a range of insurances, including Medicare and TRICARE. Contact HVRC to learn more about Older Adult Program and verify your insurance benefits.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Recognizing People Who Encourage Recovery

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we invite our readers to suggest nominees for our Joseph L. Galletta “Spirit of Recovery” Award. In the field of addiction medicine there is no shortage of individuals who’ve made an enormous difference; for example, those whose good works and tireless dedication to treatment and addiction recovery affect significant change in the lives of others. Each year, we select an individual to honor who is committed to the 12 Step philosophy and exhibit leadership in the field of recovery field. We salute exemplary men and women who encourage addiction recovery in others and promote the merits of sobriety.

Dr. Joseph Galletta was the actual embodiment of everything outlined above. Over the course of many decades, he had a hand in bringing the miracles of recovery into the lives of others. The eponymous “Spirit of Recovery” Award goes to people who, like Galletta, advocate for the addict and inspire people to recover from mental illness.

All around the world, countless men and women selflessly give back through helping others break the cycle of addiction. They are those who teach individuals how to work a program of recovery openly and honestly; they show others how to embrace spirituality and open the mind to endless possibilities. Many of the people worthy of recognition are in recovery themselves; they know first-hand the tremendous courage required to rebel against the disease.


Who Was Dr. Galletta?

Joseph Galletta (1935-2004) is the author of the "ABC's of Addictive Behaviors;" he is also dear to us here at HVRC. In 2000, Galletta became the Medical Director of Hemet Valley Recovery Center. He was a selfless man who stressed the importance of the team, fellowship, and community. An impressive resume preceded his tenure with us.

He was one of the first 160 physicians in the U.S. certified in Addiction Medicine in 1983. He served as Medical Director for Hemet Valley Medical Center's Outpatient Chemical Dependency Center until 1986. Later, he served (1993-1996) as Medical Director at the Chemical Dependency Unit at Loma Linda's Behavioral Medical Center. In 1997 Dr. Galletta began serving as the Medical Director of Addiction Medical Specialists.


Spirit of Recovery 2017

The Spirit of Recovery honor went to Reverend Leo Booth in 2017. He is the author of 10 publications, and his writing appears in Counselor Magazine regularly. Rev. Booth is a lecturer, training people in many different areas, including spirituality, depression, addictions, compulsive behaviors, and low self-esteem.

Booth’s published works include: Say Yes to Your Life, Say Yes to Your Spirit, Spirituality and Recovery, The Wisdom of Letting Go, The Angel and the Frog. You can learn some more information, here.

If you believe someone should receive the honor of the Joseph L. Galletta “Spirit of Recovery” Award, you’re welcome to submit your candidate for 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Why Are First Responders So Susceptible to Addiction?

first responders addiction
Police officers, firefighters, military personnel, paramedics and other first responders are trained to be calm in the face of chaos, but the amount of stress and trauma they experience on a daily basis isn’t just “part of the job.” It adds up over time, and the effects can be devastating.

We count on first responders to be sober and in control, but they are the very people who are most vulnerable to slipping into a cycle of isolation, avoidance and addiction due to work-related trauma.

Common Mental Health Issues Among First Responders

Exposure to images most of us can’t fathom----violence, accidents, injury and destruction--and working long shifts alongside people who are also grappling with stress and trauma take a toll. First responders often turn to substances to self-medicate, which only exacerbates mental health issues.

Common mental health disorders that affect first responders include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Co-occurring disorders

First responders experience significantly higher rates of mental illness, including substance abuse, addiction and, in particular, suicide. According to one study of approximately 4,000 EMS workers published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, 37% of respondents had contemplated suicide, and 6.6% had attempted suicide. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation reports that a fire department is three times more likely to experience a suicide in any given year than a death in the line of duty.

The transition into retirement is an especially vulnerable time. It can reveal underlying mental health or substance use disorders that were previously covered up while the former first responder was working in the field.

Overcoming the Stigma

Although society as a whole has made great strides in discussing mental health more candidly in recent years, there is still a considerable stigma surrounding the topic in a field where people are expected to be tough and resilient. Many first responders who are struggling with mental health or substance use disorders are apprehensive to acknowledge their need for treatment or that their symptoms may be interfering with their ability to do their job. Given that a first responder’s duty is put others’ needs before their own, it’s easy to understand why.

It’s unfortunate that stigma could prevent someone from getting the help they deserve, because addiction can be overcome and mental health disorders can be managed with a combination of therapy and medication.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center offers a dedicated program for first responders. We can steer you or someone you love toward the path to recovery with a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and individualized treatment plan that connects clients with the most effective mental health and addiction treatment services based on their needs. We also believe that treatment for mental health and substance use disorders should be accessible to all, which is why we accept a wide range of insurances, including Medicare and Tri-Care.

Contact HVRC to verify your benefits and learn more about our services.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"The Trade:" A Five-Part Opioid Epidemic Doc

Some people would argue that the American opioid addiction epidemic originated in the late 1990s when the health care system began placing a more significant emphasis on patient pain. Treating pain is especially tricky because it is a "subjective concern;" everyone handles discomfort in different ways, injuries and conditions affect people in varying ways. Determining the best course of treatment depends on each case.

Pain management changes at the turn of the century came when a new drug was lauded as an addiction-free opioid. Both patients and doctors were sold a bill of goods from the pharmaceutical industry that made some bold claims. Owing to financial incentives for doctors, and patients desiring pain relief, it was easy for OxyContin to sink its teeth into the patient population.

The epidemic, as we know it, is hard to comprehend fully. Society must be careful to avoid pointing the finger at one group or industry as the sole cause of the crisis. Many factors played a role in creating the problems we face today. Prescription opioids may have opened the door to heightened opioid use rates involving heroin and a skyrocketing overdose death toll, but there is much more to the story than greedy pharmaceutical companies.


Making Sense of the Addiction Epidemic

You are probably aware that it is now more challenging to access prescription painkillers; particularly in quantities enough to maintain an addiction. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Prescription opioid abuse rates haven't declined commensurately with all the talk of curbing abuse by health experts and lawmakers. Each day, many Americans die of a prescription opioid overdose. People who needed treatment, but never received it, paid the ultimate price for the disease of addiction.

The epidemic today has spilled over from emergency rooms and primary care offices; Mexican heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids have quickly become significant concerns. Fully grasping the scope and scale of the opioid scourge isn’t an easy endeavor; far too much for one person to make sense of, assistance is required. Even still, having a better grasp on the opioid problem doesn’t mean it will lead to solutions, but we need to start somewhere.

In recent years, television and media programming giants made documentaries to help explain how we got where we are today with opiates. Both HBO and Netflix have some essential docs worth watching, i.e., “Heroin (E),” “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” “Frontline: Chasing Heroin,” and “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA.” All of which covers an aspect of the epidemic and serve to give viewers an inside look at the severity of issues we face.

Last week, Showtime put some skin in the opioid-documentary enterprise, with the premiere of “The Trade,” The Boston Globe reports. The five-part series, directed by Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land”), looks at the opioid epidemic from several angles. From small Mexican villages growing poppies for the cartels, to overburdened law enforcement officers in the Midwest. You can see the second installment this Friday at 9 pm.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with painkillers or heroin, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. Opioid use disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible; we can help you begin the process of lasting addiction recovery.