Journey Healing Centers Reports 50+ Substance Abuse Treatment Surge in 2011

Share Article

With substance abuse doubling for the elderly in the US between 1992 and 2008 (SAMHSA), Journey Healing Centers ( reports a 66% increase in clients over 50 for 2011 (and it’s only June), compared to 2010. According to the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 out of 8 older adults sought help for substance abuse in 2008. To assist families in dealing with loved ones abusing alcohol and drugs, Journey Healing Centers is sharing the lessons learned, trends and 5 prevention tips from their licensed doctors and therapists just-in-time for the summer when health risks increase.

As more baby boomers retire, Journey Healing Centers (drug and alcohol treatment centers) is estimating a 140% increase in substance abuse treatment for the elderly in 2011 versus 2010. With retired workers replacing 15-hour office days with wine lunches, happy hours, dinners with friends, and possible increases in prescription medications, this trend is likely to continue and family education is essential. Lisa Lannon, Journey Healing Centers Co-Founder, shared, “One of our elderly clients would sneak out of the retirement home, walk next door to the reception hall and crash weddings, and told us ‘Who's going to kick out Grandma?’” According to a recent SAMHSA Study, substance abuse treatment admissions among those aged 50+ increased by 70% while the overall 50+ population only grew by 21% between 2000 and 2008. This study reports an estimated 1+ million emergency department (ED) visits by 50+ adults for adverse reactions to prescription drugs in 2008.

Based on seeing thousands of clients, Journey Healing Centers reports the top 3 trends in elderly substance abuse include: 1. Grief and Loss, 2. Financial Security and Retirement and 3. Extra Pressures on Elderly Women (often widowed first.) According to a federal survey, from 2005 to 2009, suicide attempts in which drugs played some role rose from 11,235 to 16,757 among women ages 50+.

Many elderly and baby boomers are on a limited budget, and will may have to make tough choices between paying for food, medicine and/or air conditioning/heat. Because many would rather suffer in silence versus ask for help since retirement is supposed to be one of the happiest times in life, it is especially important for loved ones to watch for clues and have interventions get involved before it’s too late. Based on addiction trends for the baby boomers and elderly and health risks, Journey Healing Centers is sharing 5 substance abuse prevention tips just-in-time for the summer heat when risks rise:

1. Talk to your parents about their medications, and offer to call the doctor about the combination of prescription pills. Prescription drug abuse is the second biggest addiction problem in the US, and it is important to ask questions about medications, especially when there is more than one prescription involved. Pain medication can easily be abused because there is a great perception if the pain didn’t go away with one pill, then two or more is ok. Talk to the doctor if pain tolerance to medication increases.
2. Set boundaries with loved ones to encourage a reduction in alcohol and drug abuse (prescription and/or illicit drugs) with goals for cutting back, accountability and possibly treatment.
3. If boundaries don’t work, have a caring intervention with a loved one. Explain that it is even more dangerous to drink or abuse drugs in the summer heat because it impairs judgment. It’s also dangerous to mix alcohol with many prescription drugs.
4. If a loved one is overweight, explain there is a greater health risk with substance abuse. If an eating disorder or food addiction is suspected, offer to get them help.
5. For anyone who cannot leave home or is confined to a bed, check in regularly to help them avoid depression that can lead to substance abuse.

The other challenge for baby boomers and elderly substance abuse treatment is that most long-term care providers are not equipped to handle alcohol and drug abuse as a primary diagnosis. Search for help early in your area for a treatment center with family support programs (provided by Journey Healing Centers) and avoid emergency care. According to a recent SAMHSA study, adults 50+ years comprise 51.1% of all emergency department visits each year related to adverse reactions to medications. Out of these visits, 61.5% were 65+ and 60.9% involved women. Nearly one third of these visits by older patients end up with hospital admissions for follow-up and treatment. While no one wants to think about a parent or grandparent as an alcoholic or drug addict, denial is dangerous and caring interventions can save lives.

Journey Healing Centers operates drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Arizona and Utah, and has been featured on MTV's Gone Too Far, PBS, ABC News 15 Phoenix, Fox 10 Phoenix, NBC 12 News Phoenix, ABC 4 Salt Lake City, AZ Family Phoenix/ Channel 3,,, Psychology Today and in People Magazine. Journey Healing Centers has supported thousands dealing with addictions through Residential Programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), Sober Living Homes, Aftercare, Sobriety for Life Program and a Free 24-Hour Hotline with Addiction Specialists: 1-866-774-5119,
Media Contact
Liz Brown


SAMHSA DAWN Report (2011)

Irregular Heart Beat can be caused by Substance Abuse

How to Stay Safe as Heat Grips NYC,0,1536912.story

Extreme Heat Prompts Health Alerts

More Women 50 and Older Landing in ER for Drug-Related Suicide Attempts

Happy Hour in Assisted Living? Substance Abuse Among Seniors on the Rise

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Liz Brown
Visit website