Articles by natural health author Luella Isaacs


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Drug Abuse Among Seniors is a Rising Problem


by Luella Isaacs

(The Best Years in Life) Illicit drug use in adults age 50 and over is increasing dramatically says a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This includes an alarming incidence of non medical use of prescription drugs among women aged 60 to 64. In part, this increase points to the aging of the baby boomer generation, and reportedly may necessitate the doubling of substance abuse treatment facilities by 2020.

The SAMHSA report, entitled Illicit Drug Use among Older Adults, found that an estimated 4.7% of older adults (4.3 million) have used an illegal drug during the past year. Men 50 and over were almost twice as likely to have used marijuana over the nonmedical use of prescription drugs, although marijuana use does not usually lead to the need for treatment. In men 65 years or older, the use of nonmedical prescription drugs was found to be more common than marijuana use.

Taking all age groups into consideration, men had the higher rate of using all types of drugs. However, women were found to have equal or greater nonmedical use of prescription drugs than men (1.9 vs. 1.7%). In particular, women between 60 and 64 years of age had a much higher rate of prescription drug use, primarily for the purpose of self-medication.

Pamela S. Hyde, J. D., SAMHSA Administrator, said that “This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances.” She went on to say that this study pointed out the need for prevention programs focusing on all age groups, together with proper screening and referral programs to be included in routine health services.


The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the agency that monitors the medications and illicit drugs in emergency rooms across the nation, reported that the two most common prescription drugs that are abused are benzodiazepines (diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam) and opiates (oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone). This abuse ranges from dependence on solely one drug to several combinations.

Self-medication in both older men and women is often the result of an attempt to relieve both physical and emotional issues. With children gone from the nest, many widowed women find themselves in the position of not having needed companionship and trying their best to cope with loneliness. Women who outlive their spouses also find themselves not being as financially independent as their male counterparts, causing additional stress.

The danger in this type of behavior is dependence on highly addictive drugs. Although they present a health risk in themselves, dangers also come into play when the person, not aware of the withdrawal symptoms and the health risks involved, abruptly ceases to take these medications.

When treating seniors for drug dependence, several steps are necessary. The most important step is to address emotional concerns by providing psycho-social treatment and support focusing on stress relief and development of a healthy lifestyle. Usually the drug or drugs in question need to be eliminated. However, in many instances sudden removal of drugs is not possible and gradual weaning must be done.

Too often seniors who are alone with no one to nurture seriously neglect their own diets. Guidance towards a healthy diet may be necessary. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar, processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods, has been proven to relieve depression and anxiety.

Among the supplements that are effective in relieving these conditions are 5-HTP, GABA, and Omega 3′s. Certain herbs, such as St. John’s Wort are also affective but should not be mixed with medications.


About the author:

Luella Isaacs is a natural health advocate and author helping people to heal naturally.  Her articles appear in several online venues, including Natural News, AlignLife and CureZone.  Luella is in the midst of editing her eBook, "The 8 Invisible Stains of Our Souls" which will be available in the next few months. She partners with Tony Isaacs, who authors books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy". Luella is a partner and contributor of The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Luella co-moderates the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs featuring Luella Isaacs" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and hosts her own yahoo group focusing on the natural wellbeing of pets. 




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