The aging of the Baby Boom generation brings with it a significant number of older adults that have significant substance abuse problems.
Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services (Hattiesburg, Miss.) announces the opening of its newest addiction treatment program, Legacy, for patients 60 and older.
With an estimated three million older Americans struggling with addiction, this 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 and has contributed to policy development and education on a national and international level.
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." She notes that, "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."