Alcohol and Senior Citizens

elderly couple in front of house uid 1187314People are living longer and are generally healthier. This means that seniors are making up a larger portion of our population. Although alcohol use typically declines with age, some seniors may be at risk for alcohol-related problems.

What Makes Alcohol an Issue for Seniors?

Alcohol has a greater effect on seniors because metabolism changes as we age. Older people are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, and a little will go a long way. Seniors generally take more medications than other adults. Mixing alcohol with either prescription or over-the-counter drugs is unwise and can be dangerous. The development of age-related health problems can cause anxiety and drinking may help some people feel more relaxed. At the same time, chronic conditions such as heart disease or decreased mobility can be aggravated by alcohol use.

Loss of a spouse, friends, home, or career often occurs in later years. Alcohol may be used to deal with these and other emotional stresses. Retirement brings long stretches of leisure time and may result in feelings of loneliness and depression. Alcohol may assume a role in helping pass the time.

Alcohol problems among older persons are often mistaken for physical, social or emotional conditions associated with aging. The abuse or misuse of alcohol may go undetected or may be treated inappropriately.

For some seniors, lack of day-to-day contact with fellow workers, families, and neighbors can make it difficult for others to detect an alcohol problem if one exists.

Older people who have lived through many life experiences often pride themselves on being able to handle their problems without the help of outsiders. They may be unwilling to admit to a drinking problem or uncomfortable seeking help.

In general, alcohol problems among older people can be divided into three categories. Some seniors have used alcohol excessively throughout most of their lives. Others drink at low levels but are inadvertently mixing alcohol with other drugs in ways that are harmful. And some people begin to use alcohol for the first time in their later years.

Throughout our lives it makes sense to spend our time wisely and enjoy the best health possible. Seniors can choose healthier alternatives to alcohol use – exercise, a second career, hobbies, or professional counseling to help deal with grief and loneliness.

Getting to know your doctor and pharmacist is also a good idea. These health professionals will have answers about alcohol and other drug use. Young or old, it is important to ask for help when needed. Information and treatment services are available in your area.

Students Misuse of Drugs

Students drug useStudy Suggests Parents May Underestimate Teen Misuse of Stimulant Medications

“Parents’ awareness of their teens using ‘study drugs’ does not match self-reported use by teens,” according to a US nationally representative household survey of parents of 13- to 17-year-olds.

Only 1% of parents of teens who have never been prescribed a stimulant medication for ADHD believe that their teens have used such drugs to stay awake to study for an exam or to do homework, and 4% reported that they did not know.

In contrast, recent national data from the Monitoring the Future survey show that 5% of 8th graders, 9% of 10th graders, and 12% of 12th graders report ever using stimulants such as Ritalin® or Adderall® without a prescription (see figures below).

The study also found that only slightly more than one-fourth (27%) of parents of teens reported that they had talked to their teens about using non-prescribed stimulant medications (data not shown).

While Only 1% of Parents Believe Their Teens Have Used a Stimulant to Stay Awake to Study for An Exam or To Do Homework . . . (see below)

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. . . Between 5% and 12% of
8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Teens Say They Have Ever Used Stimulants Without a Prescription (see below)

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June 10, 2013. Vol. 22, Issue 23. CESAR FAX may be copied without permission at www.cesar.umd.edu

Teens Use Diverted Medical Marijuana

74 Percent of Teens in CO Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Used Diverted Medical Marijuana

Three-quarters of teenage patients in substance abuse treatment programs in Denver, Colorado said they used someone else’s medical marijuana, according to a new study.

The study revealed that 121 of 164 teenage patients (73.8 percent) have ever used medical marijuana prescribed to someone else.  Patients reported using diverted medical marijuana from one to 1,000 times, with a median of 50 times, suggesting that most adolescent patients have used medical marijuana on multiple occasions, according to Stacy Salomonsen-Sautel, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Division of Substance Dependence. She reported the findings at the recent College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the study appears online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study found that after adjusting for gender and race/ethnicity, teenage patients who used medical marijuana had an earlier age of regular marijuana use, more marijuana abuse and dependence symptoms, and more conduct disorder symptoms, compared with those who did not use medical marijuana.

As of the end of April 2012, Colorado has 48 registered medical marijuana users under the age of 18. Four of the 164 teenage patients in the study reported being evaluated for a medical marijuana card; however, only one teenage patient received a medical marijuana card. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 96,709 people in the state were registered as medical marijuana users as of April 30, 2012. This means 2.5 percent of the adults in Colorado are registered medical marijuana users, according to Salomonsen-Sautel.

“We don’t know what proportion of the marijuana they are using is medical marijuana,” Salomonsen-Sautel notes. She said the findings imply that there is substantial diversion from registered medical marijuana users. She and her colleagues say the results support the need for policy changes that protect against diversion of medical marijuana, and reduce teenager access to it.

From; The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Join Together

Top Reasons for Not Getting Alcohol or Drug Treatment

Lack of Motivation to Quit and Health Coverage Are the Top Reasons for Not Receiving Needed Alcohol or Drug Treatment

An estimated 20.5 million people needed but did not receive alcohol or drug treatment in the past year, according to data from the 2010 National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The primary reason for not receiving treatment among those who were classified as needing—and felt they needed—treatment was not being ready to stop using alcohol or illicit drugs (40.2%). The second most commonly cited reason for not receiving treatment was having no health coverage and not being able to afford the cost (32.9%). People in need of alcohol treatment were more likely than those in need of drug treatment to cite not being ready to stop using (45.1% vs. 30.7%; data not shown), while those needing drug treatment were more likely to cite not having health coverage and could not afford the cost (41.8% vs. 30.9%; data not shown). Other reasons given were not knowing where to go for treatment, thinking that going to treatment might have a negative effect on their job or social relationships, or thinking that they could handle the problem without treatment (see figure below).

(N=an estimated 1,341,000 U.S. residents ages 12 and older classified as needing and perceiving a need for—but not receiving—treatment)

  • Not Ready to Stop Using 40.2%
  • No Health Coverage and Could Not Afford Cost 32.9%
  • Might Have Negative Effect on Job 11.5%
  • Might Cause Neighbors/Community to Have Negative Opinion 11.3%
  • Could Handle the Problem Without Treatment 9.9%
  • Did Not Know Where to Go for Treatment 9.3%
  • Did Not Feel Need for Treatment at the Time 7.8%
  • Did Not Want Others to Find Out 6.8%
  • No Transportation/Inconvenient 6.3%

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Drug-addicted anesthesiologists pose danger

Anesthesiologists – the doctors who keep patients alive during surgery, who essentially take over our breathing – make up just three per cent of all doctors, but account for 20 to 30 per cent of drug-addicted MDs. Experts say anesthesiologists are overrepresented in addiction treatment programs by a ratio of three to one, compared with any other physician group, an occupational hazard that could pose catastrophic risks to their patients.

Their drugs of choice are most frequently fentanyl and sufentanil, opioids that are 100 and 1,000 times more potent than morphine. They “divert” a portion of the doses meant for their patients to themselves, slipping syringes into their pockets.

And later, alone in the bathroom or the call room, when the drug hits their own bloodstream, the relief, the sense that all is well in the world, the mild euphoria, is immediate.

See full story via Drug-addicted anesthesiologists pose danger.

Guide on Drug Treatment

Guide to drug abuse treatment NIDAGovernment Publishes Guide on Drug Abuse Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published a free guide to choosing a drug abuse treatment program. “Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask” recommends questions that individuals and families who are struggling with addiction should ask to help them make an informed choice.

“Treatment options can vary considerably, and families often don’t know where to begin,” NIDA Director Nora Volkow said in a news release. “This booklet highlights the treatment components that research has shown are critical for success, to help people make an informed choice during a very stressful time.”

Many recent scientific advances have changed addiction treatment, but not all treatment centers have kept up with these changes, according to the Los Angeles Times. The guide recommends asking the following questions:

•    Does the program use treatments backed by scientific evidence?
•    Does the program tailor treatment to the needs of each patient?
•    Does the program adapt treatment as patients’ needs change?
•    Is the duration of treatment sufficient?
•    How do 12-step or similar recovery programs fit into drug addiction treatment?

The guide provides information on medications, evidence-based behavior therapies, the realities of relapse, and the role of community-level support.

By Join Together

Depression, alcoholism take toll on lonely evacuees in Japanese disaster areas

At least once during the daytime, she says she thinks about killing herself.

“Perhaps I had better die,” the woman muttered. “But I want to die in Hirono.”

Cases of depression and alcoholism are rising in number among evacuees of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident.

A team of mental care specialists from Kyoto Prefecture treated 262 people at seven evacuation centers, including one in Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture, until July.

The team said 51 evacuees, or 19.5 percent, were suffering from reactive depression.

Toru Ishikawa, president of the Tohokukai Medical Hospital in Sendai, says the survivors of disasters have become more susceptible to depression and alcoholism since moving into temporary housing from evacuation centers. That’s because many of them now live alone.

Full story at; Depression, alcoholism take toll on lonely evacuees in disaster areas – English.