Pine Grove's Newest Treatment Center Changes the Legacy of Older Addicts

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Adult children turning to age specific center to help aging parents and grandparents live sober.

Aging and Addiction Expert, Carol Colleran

Alcohol and prescription drug addiction in older adults is often a hidden and hushed problem, but it has reached epidemic proportions.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services announces the opening of its newest addiction treatment program for patients 60 and older, Legacy. With an estimated three million older Americans struggling with addiction, the newly renovated wing is one of the few treatment facilities in the world designed specifically for older adults with alcohol, prescription medication and illicit drug dependency.

Debbie Sanford, chief officer of behavioral health services at Pine Grove, says "We have seen a growing number of older patients and realize they need a program that understands and addresses the generational as well as physical differences that often make it difficult for them to feel comfortable in traditional treatment programs.“

Sanford and her team enlisted the country’s top expert in aging and addiction, Carol Colleran, to help with the development of the Legacy program. Colleran, a renowned educator and advocate for Boomer and older adult recovery, has spent the past 25 years developing and operating specialized addiction treatment programs for the older adult. She has participated in policy development, education and special studies for several international, national and government organizations, including the U.N., Columbia University and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Sanford says, “Pine Grove asked Carol Colleran to work with us on the development of the Legacy program because of her vast knowledge and experience in the field of age-specific addiction treatment as it relates to older adults. We knew that Ms. Colleran would be instrumental in ensuring quality addiction treatment for this patient population.”

Colleran, co-author with Debra Jay of the definitive guidebook, Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol and Medication Dependence, says, “Alcohol and prescription drug addiction in older adults is often a hidden and hushed problem, but it has reached epidemic proportions. Research shows that fully 17% of the 60+ population is suffering from an addiction problem.”

The facility offers eight beds for detox and 16 beds for residential care and has an extended program to treat them for 60 days, or longer, if needed because aging bodies produce other concerns for addiction treatment beyond medical issues.

Sanford says, “Drugs and alcohol act differently in an older body than they would in a younger. Older adults tend to metabolize substances differently due to increase in body fat, decrease in body water content, changes in gastrointestinal, liver and kidney function.”

Colleran adds, “Once admitted to the program, it’s important to acknowledge that treatment for older adult addicts takes on a slower pace, due to complex physical, mental and possible cognitive impairments.”

Colleran also says the key to successful treatment with older adults is flexibility, “When age groups are mixed, older patients often ignore their own problems in attempting to care for younger patients. Older adults also respond better to being treated with dignity and respect than with harsh, confrontational kinds of counseling." She also points out that sometimes the addiction can seemingly blindside the aging addict, “Oftentimes older adults become ‘accidental addicts’ by growing dependent on substances after being prescribed the drugs for a legitimate problem and having the prescription refilled.”

For more information about Pine Grove, please visit http://www.pinegrovetreatment.com/ or call 1-888-574-HOPE(4673).

About Pine Grove
Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive treatment campuses. For over twenty five years Pine Grove has offered a continuum of services ranging from outpatient to inpatient and residential treatment for adults, children and adolescents suffering from psychiatric and addictive diseases. Specialized services include the treatment of chemical dependency, eating disorders, sex addiction and professionals struggling with interpersonal difficulties. The Pine Grove Mission is to be a leader in healing and changing lives by providing the highest quality behavioral health services.

About Carol Colleran
Carol Colleran, CAP, ICADC, is a pioneer in the development of addiction treatment for the aging Boomer wave and older adults. With her clinical leadership, the Center for Older Adult Recovery at Hanley Center was developed in 1998, and Boomer-specific treatment followed a decade later. Carol is a renowned educator and advocate for Boomer and older adult recovery. She is the co-author with Debra Jay of the definitive guidebook, Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol and Medication Dependence. She is sought as a presenter in university to professional conference settings. She has participated in policy development, education and special studies for several international, national and government organizations, including the U.N., Columbia University and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Carol is the recipient of numerous awards in the fields of aging and addiction, including the prestigious Johnson Institute’s America Honors Recovery Award. Carol’s many media interviews have included National Public Radio; the Washington Post; cover photo features in the New York Times; MORE Magazine and AARP News Bulletin. She has contributed to a number of professional journals and web casts.

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