Whitney Houston passed away this weekend alone in a hotel room in Los Angeles. The results aren't in, but probable cause was her reliance on alcohol or drugs. This is no secret, it's been in the news and the tabloids for years. What may surprise you is that substance abuse among baby boomers is increasing. Alcohol and drug abuse among older adults is a subject rarely discussed. The older adult won’t mention to physicians and medical providers that they drink or use elicit rugs.
Statistics from SAMHSA 1992-2008 report that heroin use among the 60+ age group doubled from 7.1 to 16%, cocaine use quadrupled 2.9 to 11.4% and marijuana use quadrupled from 0.6 to 2.9%. 17% of adults age 60+ are alcohol dependent. Persons 65 and older consume more prescription drugs than any other age group, making them more susceptible to side effects from mixing prescription drugs and alcohol.
Research indicates more frequent abusers are often widowed, separated or divorced individuals experiencing major life changes. Obsessions of any kind more commonly result in challenges, whether it's an obsession with substances or an obsessions with caregiving.
Caregivers sometimes become overinvolved and obsessed in caring for others. Like substance abuse, the person needing care becomes their drug of choice. Caregivers lose sleep, want to control the situation and yes, sometimes resort to alcohol or drugs. No matter our obsession, it's important to make sure it doesn't overtake our lives.