AARP Abusers?

We tend to think of problem drinking as a problem for the young, or the middle aged and depressed, but alcohol abuse doesn’t believe in age discrimination. Neither does drug abuse. Worrying statistics show that older Americans are drinking and abusing illicit drugs at record rates. Is it loneliness? A feeling of purposelessness after retirement? The loss of friends or a spouse? Turns out, it’s all pretty complicated, but if you notice grandma or grandpa going through bottles of tequila or hoarding prescription pills, you might need to intervene.



Retired Americans and Substance Abuse

Statistics show very clearly that there is an issue with older Americans and substance abuse. Even when you consider the fact that the overall number of retirees is growing thanks to the size of the Baby Boomer generation, there are a lot of seniors hitting the bottle. About three million meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and experts expect that number to double by 2020.

As for drug abuse, the number of adults over the age of 50 abusing illicit substances doubled from 2002 to 2013. A common factor among older adults struggling with substance abuse is being retired. It makes sense that such a big life transition could lead many adults to seek comfort in drugs and alcohol, but researchers have found that the numbers can’t be explained so simply.


It’s not Just Retirement

Recent research from faculty at Tel Aviv University and Cornell University, funded by the National Institutes of Health, has uncovered some interesting and more complex explanations for the increasing number of older Americans turning to drugs and alcohol. The researchers used a phone-based survey and collected answers from 1,200 adults between the ages of 52 and 75.

The data definitely show that retirement is part of the problem. The transition from working for thirty or more years and being useful and needed, to not working can be difficult. Not all workers have prepared adequately for this transition and face feelings of having no purpose, of not being needed, and of not having anything useful to do. Psychologically, the transition is tough.

What the researchers found among all the survey responses was that the psychological transition from work to no work was not the simple answer to the problem of elder substance abuse. Whether a retiree would become a substance abuser had more to do with circumstances and attitudes surrounding retirement than the lack of work itself. For instance, those that had not prepared financially were more likely to take to drinking or drug abuse. Another issue was marital discord. Retirement of one spouse can put a strain on the relationship. Deaths of close friends and spouses also contributed to substance abuse.

The reasons for and the conditions of retirement were also important in determining how well individuals coped and whether they turned to substance abuse. The group that had the highest rates of substance abuse included those seniors that had retired earlier than they wanted to out of fear that the companies for which they worked were going to fail. These people enjoyed their jobs and were not ready to stop working yet.


The Good News

All this sounds terribly depressing and sad, but there is good news. Even small interventions can make a difference. In fact, even the awareness that substance abuse is an issue for older Americans can lead to significant positive changes. This means you may need to have a talk with that senior you care about. It may be awkward, but if you want grandma to be happy and healthy, sit her down and have a chat about her lifestyle choices. Your intervention could make all the difference.

2018-08-23T06:40:21+00:00January 10, 2015|Health and Wellness, Substance Abuse|

Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into A Substance Abuser?

Sleepless Teen


Can Your Sleepless Teen Turn Into a Substance Abuser?

If you’re the parent of a teen, you have a lot of things to worry about. Will he fail math this semester? Will he get into college? Is that new friend of his a racist, or is it just me? How much your teen sleeps or doesn’t sleep might be low on your list of concerns, but there is new research that says you better prioritize it. If you know teens at all you know they don’t sleep enough. They stay up too late texting, or if you’re lucky, studying, and then they have to be to school by 7:30. How can they possibly be getting enough sleep? They’re not and they are at risk for substance abuse as a result.

The Problem of Sleep

Surveys and polls tell us what we already know: teenagers don’t get enough sleep. As much as 45 percent of young adults get too few hours of sleep each night. Even youngsters are struggling. Up to 27 percent of children and pre-teens are not sleeping enough either. Then there are the teens who may want to sleep, but have symptoms of insomnia. Ten percent of teens report having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep every night. You have probably heard that adults should aim for between six and eight hours of sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should be getting more than nine hours every night.

Sleepiness Leads to Substance Abuse?

There are some pretty obvious consequences for your teenager when she doesn’t get enough sleep. Her memory and concentration at school suffer. Her mood becomes even more volatile than normal. She may eat too much or eat more junk food in her dazed and sleepy state. A new study has found that the results of poor sleep can be even more serious.

The research comes from psychologist Maria Wong and her colleagues at Idaho State University. They analyzed data from questionnaires and interviews conducted with over 6,000 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The data were collected over three different time periods. The researchers looked for sleep problems and tiredness in one time period and substance abuse issues in the next time period. They controlled for any teens that were already abusing substances during the first period of data collection.

What the researchers found was that having sleep difficulties during the first period correlated significantly with problematic drinking and drug use in the second period of surveys. Those teens that didn’t sleep enough or had symptoms of insomnia were more likely to binge drink, drive while under the influence of alcohol, to be sexually active because of drinking and regret it later, and to use illicit drugs.

This study was not the first to make a connection between lack of sleep and later substance abuse, but it is important in a couple of ways. First, previous studies looked at kids in groups already at a high-risk for substance abuse, while this study included a nationally-representative sample. And, the current study included both insomnia and insufficient sleep, while previous work focused only on insomnia.

What Can Parents Do?

The results of the study are troubling, and yes, they give you yet another thing to worry about as a parent. The good news is that you can play an important role in teaching your teen about sleep and to have good sleep hygiene. Share and model good sleep hygiene like not using mobile devices before bed and setting a regular sleep schedule. If your teen shows signs of insomnia, consider seeing your pediatrician or a sleep specialist. You know how serious the consequences of inadequate sleep can be, so take steps now to make sure your teen is sleeping like a baby every night.

2018-08-23T06:42:05+00:00October 10, 2014|Health and Wellness, Substance Abuse, The Control Center|

Are You Having A Drynuary?


After the party-filled nights (and days too, let’s be honest) of the holiday season, and particularly that New Year’s Eve bender, a lot of us are rethinking our drinking. After weight loss and exercise, cutting back on alcohol is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. It makes sense, after all. You’re realizing that waking up with a pounding head, a spinning room, and a tongue plastered to the roof of your mouth is not the way to live. You might even be starting to think you have a slight and growing problem with your old friend the bottle.

If you feel this way, you’re far from alone. There is a growing trend to participate in Drynuary, a dry January, to reset the liver and the spirit. Could you go booze-free for a month? No glass of wine with dinner, no wind-down drink after a hard day at the office, and no cocktails on girls’ night out. It seems like a good, restorative choice, especially if you feel you imbibe too much, but are the positive effects of Drynuary worth the efforts?

In a scientific, if not clinical, trial, several staffers at the magazine New Scientist tried a month of alcohol-free living and measured their health outcomes to find out if it was worthwhile. The question is: can short-term abstinence have any positive health effects? What they found was encouraging. The staff members answered a health questionnaire, gave blood samples, and underwent ultrasounds to measure fat on the liver. This was all conducted under the supervision of health care workers at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

Repeating the tests after five weeks free of alcohol, the ten staffers found that they had achieved positive health gains. On average, they lost 15 percent of fatty liver deposits, a precursor to liver damage. They also saw an average reduction in blood sugar levels of 16 percent and blood cholesterol levels of five percent. They even lost a little weight. The participants also reported more subjective improvements. On the questionnaires they reported significant improvements in quality of sleep, work performance, and concentration.

No other study, academic or otherwise, has tested the impact of short-term alcohol abstinence. Plenty of research, however, has pinpointed all the ways in which drinking to excess can harm your health. Heavy drinking can lead to addiction, causes accidents, and has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer in women. Cutting back on alcohol reduces these risks.

There is no question that abstaining from drink for a month could make you feel better, and the intrepid journalists who tried it certainly saw some benefits, but we have no idea if these benefits are lasting. We also don’t know if going totally alcohol-free for one month will cause people to drink less generally after the abstinence or if the participants go straight to the bar on February first and undo all their efforts.

If you want to try giving up alcohol for a month, it is a worthy and worthwhile effort, but don’t use Drynuary as an excuse to go on a bender in February. You would be better off cutting back on your drinking overall and avoiding binge drinking. Step away from the bar a couple nights a week and go out for a jog instead, or spend some time with friends at a coffee shop. Trade in your hangovers and next-morning regrets for better health and a better sense of self. – .VK1geyvF_w0

2018-08-23T06:42:48+00:00August 6, 2014|Health and Wellness, The Control Center|

Shopping Addiction & Compulsive Buying: A Growing Concern In America


“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.” Have you seen the movie, Confessions of a Shopaholic? The main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, played by Isla Fisher, says that line to describe why she loves to shop.

Sophie Kinsella wrote a series of novels that lead to the script that follows a young woman who cannot stop shopping. While the story is fiction, there is so much truth to the concept and to that simple quote. Shopping becomes a drug, and the user needs a constant fix.

The fact that a movie like this was made, and did well, shows just how much shopping addiction and compulsive buying are a growing concern in America.

The high Rebecca feels when buying something is temporary. She sees that even though the world gets better and feels better when she compulsively buys, that it is temporary and she needs another shopping spree to make her world feel better again. It’s a vicious cycle of ups and downs based on something completely external. Does this sound familiar?

About 6% of people in the United States have some form of a shopping addiction. With a population of almost 314 million, that’s over 18 million people.

Instead of buying clothes and other stuff when it is actually needed, people are shopping as a recreational activity. Clothes and shoes are needed for everyday life, yes, but think about how much you are able to wear at one time. Now think of how many items in your closet you absolutely love. What is all the rest there for?

Think about the reason you bought certain pieces that are in your closet right now. Did emotions drive you to make that purchase? Are there feelings still connected to certain articles of clothing Would you say that these emotions and feelings are healthy?

Unhealthy patterns progress and it seems that shopping is a cure for anything difficult to handle these days. Are you having trouble coping with a painful breakup, or loss of a job or friend? Go buy yourself something nice. Are you bored? Go shopping. Sad? Go buy yourself something to cheer you up. It can also go the other way. Are you feeling great? Did you do something well? Go shop a little. Promotion at work? Go reward yourself for a job well done.

So what exactly diagnoses a shopping addiction or compulsive buying? Well, do you feel unable to stop? When you are on your way to buy something, do you feel that you shouldn’t be stepping foot into that store? Do you know that a shopping spree right now will mess up your finances, but you want to do it anyway? Are you buying things that you want instead of items that you need?

If you feel your behavior is out of control, you want to stop but you cannot, and you need help to make shopping and buying changes, you may be diagnosable. In any case, finding out how to stop is an important step. Just like an alcoholic or drug addict, abstinence is a very real part of recovery from shopping addiction and compulsive buying.

Treatment centers that help people recover from drug, alcohol, and behavioral addictions, like gambling and love/sex addiction, also treat shopping addiction and compulsive buying. A formal assessment is a great way to find out more.

The treatment team at The Control Center will help determine what treatment is best for you. Call now 877.813.2974 and start building a better life!

2018-08-23T06:44:36+00:00October 10, 2013|Health and Wellness, Mental Health, The Control Center|

Amanda Bynes Comes Clean On Eating Disorder

eating disorder

Amanda Bynes comes clean: she has an eating disorder. How does she announce it? As only a young Hollywood lady can, by posting pictures of herself on Twitter with majorly self-degrading comments.

She used to seem like a sweet, well-balanced, talented actress, getting work all the time. Starring on TV shows and in movies, carrying a whole film, but recently she has taken a turn for the worst.

In February, when she weighed in at 121 lbs, Amanda felt that was Tweet-worthy, and it seems that was when she established her target weight. She had just moved to New York, and her Twitter followers learned that, “I lost four pounds since I moved. I’m 121 pounds — my goal is 100 pounds.”

Amanda celebrated her birthday in early April and then Tweeted that “I have an eating disorder, so I have a hard time staying thin.”

An April 30th Tweet, “About to put on makeup! I weigh 135, I’ve gained weight! I need to be 100 lbs!” was paired with a picture of Amanda in a bra and leggings.

At 5’8” tall, 27-year-old Amanda can weigh between 122 and 164 pounds to still be considered within a healthy range. Obviously if she got down to 100 lbs she could be considered frail and unhealthy. What is keeping her from seeing that?  A disease that tricks you by perception?

It appears Amanda Bynes truly has an eating disorder, and she knows it, so many are asking why isn’t she in treatment? Why isn’t someone stepping in and helping Amanda get help? Where are her family and friends? Has the disease convinced her to push everyone who cares about her away? Denial is a powerful mental tool when you need it.

These Tweets are only some of the unsettling messages Amanda has made public. The list goes on. Some are quite vulgar and others are sad.

Many professions would agree – this young woman is screaming for help.

Advice to Amanda, and other women like her: Girl, stop Tweeting! Stop sharing everything with everyone. The help you need will not come from a Twitter follower. Instead, talk to somebody you trust, and if that somebody does not exist right now, call and find help.

The problem is, an eating disorder can consume your thoughts and behaviors. You can feel like you must gain control this aspect of your life because you don’t have control over any other part, and perfectionism is very real too.

For young women in the Hollywood spotlight, staying a certain size and trying to remain relevant to the masses is competitive, but may come as part of the job description. We’ve heard reports of what growing up in the public eye can do to a girl. Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore. Jodie Sweetin (who played Stephanie on the show Full House.) And now Amanda Bynes. The pressure is too much. Without a developed identity, these young women seek external validation and never seem to feel “good enough.”

Eating disorders, and substance abuse issues, are attempts at filling the void. Convincing yourself that, by setting a goal weight and working toward being a certain size, you are taking control of your life, is simply backwards.

Drew Barrymore, per reports and interviews, is a great example of someone who got help and made changes so she could live a healthy life. We cannot do it alone though.

Amanda Bynes needs an intervention. A chance to get healthy. Formal treatment could save her life, and show her how detrimental her current lifestyle will be long-term.

Can someone in her life persuade her to seek eating disorder rehab before anything else life-changing happens?

2018-08-23T06:45:22+00:00July 10, 2013|Behavioral Addiction, Health and Wellness, The Control Center|