Addiction on the Rise Among Baby Boomers

Addiction on the Rise Among Baby Boomers

Who would have thought that addiction would be affecting baby boomers at this stage of their lives? But it has. Approximately four million Americans nearing retirement age have a substance abuse problem. How did this happen?

Boomers, who have responsibilities caring for their elderly parents, are also dealing with their own health issues, perhaps raising teens, experiencing the empty nest, divorce or other losses and are feeling so overwhelmed that their lives have spiraled out of control.

Can a little drink or two be so bad? It can if it becomes something you depend on to get you through the night. Or have you become addicted to your prescribed medication for pain or anxiety?

Many boomers take medications because they are so readily available, but it has caused them to become chemically dependent. Along with these and other addictions, like gambling and eating disorders, the future of many baby boomers is a cause for concern.

Boomers are more vulnerable to severe side effects of drugs and/or alcohol use. As you age, your body can’t handle the drugs as it would if you were younger. Many are likely to be physically and psychologically fragile. Recovery from addiction could take longer and use more medical resources, like private care and longer counseling services.

The Hanley Center, a nonprofit residential treatment center in West Palm Beach, FL has launched one of the first programs geared specifically for this population. According to the professionals, boomers are not as prepared to accept the aging process or their physical limitations, so they instead look for the quick fix – which can be Xanax, marijuana, alcohol or Oxycodone. These challenges are addressed to help in the recovery process for this aging population.

What do you need to do? Boomers need to assess how healthy their coping skills are and whether their behavior moves them towards or away from creating strong relationships, a good work ethic and optimum health and well-being. If it is determined that the behavior is harmful, there are many options available.

Certainly if you or someone you know has a problem, seek help. It is never too late to ask for support, since treatment is available. The wisest thing to consider is that the discomforts of life can be dealt with without medicating yourself into oblivion. It is possible to cope with your life issues in a healthy, constructive and positive way and give yourself a new lease on life. The choice is yours!