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Addiction Among Baby Boomers

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—these are just a few key roles played by America’s baby boomer population today. Commonly known as the “special generation,” this group has been characterized by exceptional wealth, opportunity and ambition. But a unique social status is not the only thing that sets this generation apart from others. Drug and alcohol addiction among baby boomers also displays distinct challenges that are unfamiliar to other groups.

Last month, the New York times published a two-part Q&A with Dr. Barbara Krantz, a renowned Doctor and Addiction Specialist in West Palm Beach, FL. Dr. Krantz fielded questions about addiction among baby boomers and explained some of the unique circumstances that face this group. Using her presentation as a guide, here are three baby boomer addiction trends to watch for.

Spare time

The typical baby boomer spends a great deal of time in the work force. Currently between the ages of 49 and 67, many boomers have been working for more than 40 years to date. So once they reach the average retirement age of 61, their lives undergo a drastic change. All of a sudden, the boomer has a great deal of spare time on their hands, and they are overwhelmed with the task of allocating it accordingly.

At this juncture, it is not uncommon for boomers to resort to substance abuse. For example, Dr. Krantz’s Q&A session identifies a 66 year old woman from a small Florida town who almost drank herself to death after retiring from her career as a social worker. After dedicating so many years to a hard-fought career, boomers have a large void to fill in their lives. And for many of them, drugs and alcohol seem to do the trick just fine.

This explains why it is crucial for members of this generation to take up hobbies after retirement. Activities like golf, exercising, volunteering and spending time with family can be the difference between health and substance abuse for many boomers. Dr. Krantz also specifically identifies yoga as a therapeutic activity for those battling addiction.

A Culture of Drugs and Alcohol

Baby boomers predominantly grew up during or around the 1960’s—a decade wrought with drug and alcohol abuse. And evidence shows they are increasingly indulging in the behaviors of their youth. A 2010 study found that roughly 2.4 million people ages 50 to 59 had abused prescription or illicit drugs over the past month—a number that more than doubled since 2002.

It is important for people in this age group to understand that drugs and alcohol are not a healthy remedy to the struggles of late adulthood. Dr. Krantz encourages loved ones to “approach boomers on an intellectual level.” She claims, “they need to fully understand why we approach treatment the way we do, because they search for knowledge and understanding rather than passively accepting authority.”

Know your Genes

If you have a relative displaying symptoms of drug addiction, it may be time to examine your family’s genes to see how widespread such behavior is within your family. Any person inheriting tendencies toward addiction has the right to know about them so they can plan accordingly for their future health and safety.

Dr. Krantz said the following to a concerned mother whose children may have inherited alcoholic genes from their father: “There is a genetic predisposition for addiction. It is important to inform your children that the disease runs in the family, and whether they are 15 or 25, it is never too late to do so. Have a conversation with your children to educate and empower them to be healthy and self-aware.”

Knowledge of these trends is useful for concerned loved ones and members of the baby boomer generation alike. Slipping into substance abuse is a slow, gradual process that is not always noticed immediately. So if someone you know is displaying any of these signs, keep an eye on them to make sure they are living a safe and healthy life.

Prominence Treatment is happy to help with maintaining the health and sobriety of you or your loved ones. Contact our qualified representatives today for a free consultation.

Image credit: BoomerCafe.com

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