Baby Boomers and the Alarming Increase in Alcohol Use Disorders

Baby Boomers are the fastest growing segment of the population. They’re also the group with the most dramatic increase in harmful alcohol use. According to a research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, increases in alcohol use, high risk drinking, and alcohol use disorders (AUD) among adults 65 years and older were substantially higher relative to earlier surveys.

The most alarming findings indicated that the number of adults 65 years and older who drank has risen higher than the national average by about 23 percent. And the average number of adults 65 and older suffering from alcohol abuse had risen by nearly 107 percent.

The study also reconfirmed the well-known correlation between alcohol use and the higher risk for disability, morbidity, and death from many alcohol-related chronic diseases. According to the National Institute on Aging, drinking too much alcohol over a long time can:

In addition to the medical risks are the many safety risks that alcohol creates for older adults. Drinking can impair a person’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This increases the risk of falls, household accidents, and car crashes.

In the midst of the medical and safety risks, the increase in both binge drinking and AUD among older adults has created a new urgency for doctors to screen for and identify unhealthy alcohol use by their older patients. Physicians are ideally positioned to discuss the risks of continued use and the options available to stop drinking for those with the problem. To support this effort, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), offers multiple online resources for providers, such as brochures, fact sheets, alert bulletins, classroom resources, and videocasts. NIAAA’s website also provides the general public with information related to alcohol abuse among older adults.

In Houston, The Council on Recovery’s Wellderly program provides information and resources to help older adults, their family members, caregivers, and service providers identify and address alcohol and substance use and/or misuse. The Wellderly program’s unique suite of services include:

  • Community education and outreach to older adults and service providers
  • Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
  • Case management
  • Specific help and guidance in talking with an older adult who has questions about their own substance use or a friend’s use of substances
  • Education and support for family members
  • Educational materials that aid older adults in taking better care of themselves

The Wellderly Program is supported by funding from The United Way of Greater Houston. For more information about the Wellderly Program please call 281.200.9109, email wellderly@councilonrecovery.org, or contact us online.

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 49

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 49 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In all these Notes, the fundamental core element is the idea of the Hero, the individual who journeys into the Underworld of her/his life to initiate a process of ongoing recovery from the ravages and horrors of addiction.  This is the same Hero that attends the core of thousands upon thousands of stories told in all the societies of the human experience all over the world. We have merely focused on it here in these Notes, seeing its parallel in the lives of all of us.

The recent DC Comics movie, Aquaman, is a tale of an undersea society of women and men living in many tribes, the center of which is the mythic world of Atlantis.  Atlantis was also a world of hubris that was created by Plato and other scholars and which, as a result of massive mythical conflicts, was eventually buried on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Aquaman
Aquaman

The hero of the modern movie, Aquaman, was a crossbreed of the queen of the undersea world and a surface human, a lighthouse keeper who rescued her from near death on the rocks at the foot of his lighthouse.  This hero, Aquaman, is blessed with significant powers and, upon reaching adulthood, he is drawn into a conflict between the tribes of the undersea world.  He is charged with the mandate to restore order to this world. To carry out this mandate, he must journey to a strange and dangerous realm and retrieve a golden trident, a weapon which grants him a set of powers that approach invincibility. This trident will enable him to prevail over all others and to restore peace and prosperity to the undersea realm.

The parallel to other mythic systems, particularly to that of King Arthur of early Celtic lore, is clear and very powerfully done in Aquaman. As in King Arthur, the golden trident is akin to the sword Excalibur which Arthur, a seemingly common man of royal blood, retrieves from a stone and is elevated to the mantle of King. As King, Arthur leads the Knights of the Round Table, each of whom set out episodically on quests of chivalry, conquest and spiritual enlightenment.

Does all of this strike you as profoundly as it strikes me…that all of us in recovery, those of us who have truly committed ourselves to lives of responsibility, accountability and service, are heroes of precisely equal stature and power…all of us?  Our journeys to achieve levels of sobriety have the same elements of these majestic stories, from the explorations into the frightening darkness of our pasts to the glory of the milestones that we celebrate with our Fellows and through the service that we are challenged to provide to others.

As we look at all the great heroic stories of the human experience, all those stories that mirror the lives of so many of us, there is this heroic mantle that seems to have been laid upon all of us.  It is the grace of a Higher Power, a mantle which we all are mandated to wear, to work, to be of service, in small and large ways, to make the world in which we live a better, safer place.

How Pornography Affects the Teenage Brain – An Infographic

Pornography addiction is an adolescent high-risk behavior that is escalating across all segments of the teenage population. By viewing sexually pornographic material, adolescents may face potential emotional, psychological, social, and physiological disorders and issues. The Infographic below, designed by helpyourteennow.com, illustrates the effects that pornography can have on developing adolescent brains. It can help you understand the problem and start important dialogue with your teen about viewing sexually explicit material.

Mindful Choices is the Center for Recovering Families’ adolescent high-risk behavior course that covers pornography addiction and 14 other risky behaviors. For teenagers and their parents, the course addresses these problems in the early, treatable stages. For more information, call 713-914-0556email CRF@councilonrecovery.orgor contact us online.

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 48

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 48 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the Hindu traditions, there is a long Sanskrit epic called the Mahabharata, about a multi-generational feud between two ruling families, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, ruling in the ancient land that is today Northern India. The story culminates in a giant battle involving all the young men of the time, all aligned with one of the two families.

As the battle is about to begin, the head of the Pandavas, Arjuna, asks his charioteer, who is also the god Krishna, to drive him into the ‘no man’s land’ between the two armies. Seeing the size of the armies aligned against each other and imagining what is about to begin, Arjuna is overcome with grief. He asks Krishna for some relief, some way to avoid the coming armageddon. Krishna answers with a long poetic text that has become highly celebrated in spiritual circles; it is the Bhagavad Gita, aka the “Gita,” a spectacular, deeply articulated, relatively long prescription for an enlightened way of being.

Krishna begins the Gita with a direct response to Arjuna’s question.  He says that, as a warrior, Arjuna’s dharma, his cosmic reason for being, is to fight; he cannot avoid the call to arms.  Krishna says, “For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil […] for it comes as an open gate to heaven.”

This is a wonderfully inspirational message for me, and, I believe, for all of us on the lifelong journey in sobriety. Active alcoholic behavior, living in the active disease, is an intrinsic evil, a place where we are active agents of devastation and abuse, abuse of people and the cosmos.  Our efforts to cross the threshold to abstinence, to a life of deeply imbedded behavior modification, and to a committed life of service are truly those of the warrior, that of the nobility of a warrior in a glorious quest for conquest over evil. Reading the Gita, from its beginning in the exchange with Arjuna, is a wonderful spiritual experience…and seeing it from the perspective of our own personal journeys is a great gift of grace from our own Higher Power.

New Research: First or Second Use of Cannabis Can Change Grey Matter Volume in Teenage Brain

Research just published in the Journal of Neuroscience presents evidence suggesting structural brain and cognitive effects of just one or two instances of cannabis use in adolescence.

The study utilized brain scans to compare grey matter volume (GMV) in 46 fourteen year old male and female adolescents with just one or two instances of cannabis use and a carefully matched control group of non-cannabis users. The outcome showed differences in GMV among the cannabis users that were not indicated in the non-user group. It also showed that GMV differences were unlikely to precede cannabis use.

This new research confirms what The Council on Recovery has understood for years: Teenage and young adult brains are physiologically affected by substance use (such as cannibinoids) until those brains are fully-developed in the mid-20s. Substance users are also more likely to become addicted during this brain maturation period than if they wait until after full brain development.

These findings are timely as the legal status of cannabis is changing in many places and the perceived risks of cannabis use by young people has declined. In recent survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, nearly 35% of American 10th graders reported recreational cannabis. And that number may be increasing as the legal status of marijuana changes around the country. But, even as societal attitudes regarding marijuana shift, cannabis use and its effect on the adolescent and young adult brain continue. Certainly, while much is known, more research is needed.

In the meantime, The Council stands ready to help teenagers, young adults, and their families recover from cannabis addiction and other substance use disorders. If you or a loved one needs help, call 713-942-4100 or contact us online.

#192aDay Campaign Launches to Remember those Lost to Addiction

This week, Addiction Policy Forum launched the #192aDay awareness campaign to honor those lost to drug overdose and other complications of substance use. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s 2017 data revealed that more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses — 192 a day — making it the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, more than deaths from gun violence or car accidents. The campaign features 192 letters from the family members who have lost a loved one to addiction.

Excerpts from the campaign:

Cassidy C 192aDay
Cassidy

“She was our sunshine, our beautiful and bright angel. But to shine some light on an illness that is taking the lives of far too many, if we allow shame, guilt or embarrassment to cause this illness to become a dark family secret, hiding in the shadows, everyone loses.”-Cassidy’s mom, Charla

Anthony F 192
Anthony

“The disease of addiction is a merciless, non-discriminatory devil. The loss of my big brother has created a sore on my heart that will never heal. We must fight to end this epidemic.”-Anthony’s brother, Gino

Justice 192aDay
Justice

“Heroin took my daughter. She was 21 years old. She had barely lived. Justice never owned her own car; she never traveled the world; she never married or had children; she won’t see her brothers grow to be good men, or meet her future nieces or nephews. My daughter will never dance again. She will never see an amazing sunset, or feel the warmth of the sun on her beautiful face. I will never hear my daughter’s beautiful voice again or hear her call me mom. Heroin took that all away. We all failed my daughter. All those times she reached out for help and was denied, we failed her. I have to live with this for the rest of my life. Justice was my only daughter. She was my girl, she was my dream, she was my everything.” -Justice’s mom, Jennifer

Emmett  192
Emmett

“Emmett was the average American teen; he loved video games and BMX biking. He was a caring, funny, smart young man with the potential for greatness. He was the adored older brother to Zachary and Alice . He had a smile and charm that could light up a room – but heroin stole that from him.”-Emmett’s mom, Aimee

“It’s far past time we recognize addiction for the disease that it is and move beyond the stigma that enshrouds substance use disorders,” said Jessica Hulsey Nickel, founder of the Addiction Policy Forum. “192 a Day helps shine a bright light on the beautiful lives lost to addiction and gives voice to the families that have been affected. We encourage those who have lost someone to share their stories through the campaign so we can show local, state and national leaders the very real impact addiction has on our communities.”

Please read the stories and get involved at 192aDay.org and watch @AddictionPolicy‘s PSA  #192aDay featuring those lost to #addiction at https://bit.ly/2RlhOct .

Call The Council
If you, a loved one, or friend have a problem with drugs or any substance use disorder, call The Council on Recovery at 713-941-4200 or contact us online. We are Houston’s leading non-profit provider of prevention, education, treatment, and recovery services. We can help!