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Alcohol Awareness Month 2014

by James Heller 11. April 2014 14:08
When you work in a field that deals with alcoholism on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget the level of public awareness about the disease.  It’s very low, even among those who deal with the pain and heartache of a suffering loved one.  In the interest of awareness, with April being Alcohol Awareness Month, here are some basics.
 
 
Alcoholics are unable to stop drinking once they start, without a conflict, no matter how much you beg.  The saying goes that if an alcoholic is not drinking, he’s thinking about the next drink.  A big part of alcohol dependence is the intense craving an individual feels.  These feelings are so strong that an alcoholic in recover for 10 years could still find his mouth watering at the sight of a martini or glass of wine.  And it isn’t about the taste.

Alcohol always satisfies the craving, as promised, and is trusted to always do so.  This is due to some biological and psychological functions that need not be addressed here.  And it can’t be stressed enough that alcohol is this individual’s best friend because people can never be as trustworthy.  Alcohol dependence has its drawbacks, of course, like terrible withdrawals.  But they are easily remedied by drinking more alcohol.  So the only downside, to the alcoholic, is the people who nag him to stop drinking.

The “hole in the soul” is a good way to describe why an alcoholic drinks.  It feels like something is missing inside that would help him cope with daily life.  Alcoholics lack a coping mechanism that most people have, so they tend to dwell on little events that seem to not bother others.  Alcohol fills that hole and makes him feel like he is a part of society, rather than being different.  From the first drink on, all is okay as long as the alcoholic is drinking.
Eventually, heavy drinking leads to abuse and then dependence.  At that point the body needs alcohol to function, and cutting off the supply may be fatal.  That’s a sad fact.  

This doesn’t mean that the situation is hopeless.  It’s important, though, to find the right time to have a discussion with your alcoholic.  For some reason, spouses, parents, children, and friends will confront an alcoholic during a binge, knowing that the last attempt was a disaster.  His mind, body, and spirit will always go to defend his best friend, and you get nowhere.  The best thing to do is remain calm until he passes out.

Aside from a professional intervention, the best time to confront an alcoholic is after he sleeps off a negative experience.  Wait until he’s “come to”, and then discuss the behavior.  It’s crucial that you convey a sense of love and care.  The best thing you can do for him is to lead him to the realization that he has a problem.  That realization is known as a “moment of clarity” in recovery groups, and is often described as having a divine influence.
When that moment arrives, you need to immediately… right now …get him in to a treatment center.  Therefore, you need to do your homework before the conversation starts.  It begins with one call to a local treatment center, like the one at Tarzana Treatment Centers, where you can learn how treatment works.  You’ll find out what is needed to get your loved one admitted when the time comes, and will also get some tools to make that day arrive faster.

Successful treatment will lead to abstinence for your alcoholic.  Continued treatment and attending a support group, like AA, will help him stay sober.  The odds are, though, that your alcoholic will relapse after treatment at least once.  It’s just a fact of life and a part of recovery for the great majority of recovering alcoholics.  Ask questions, find out what happened, encourage open communication, and talk to a counselor together.  Get him right back on the horse.

Here is one final note for the loved ones.  You need help, too.  Attend at least one Al-Anon or CODA meeting in your area.  There is no shame in being associated with an alcoholic, and you need to know how to regain your self-worth.  You may even choose to enter therapy, which is also available at Tarzana Treatment Centers.
 
Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.
   
Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Get Help for Relapse Fast

by James Heller 16. January 2013 10:29
Setbacks occur for everyone.  You can plan ahead for everything you do, and you still can’t guarantee that it will all go your way.  For people in recovery, of all ages, it is a daily exercise to deal with this fact, and to avoid relapse.  If there is a relapse, the suggested action is to get help right away, especially for seniors.
 
 
Individuals in early recovery learn to accept what happens externally so they can better cope with events internally.  This is a foreign concept to the alcoholic and addict brain, and it takes years for most of them to put it into regular practice.   Even after years of “getting it”, something can happen that breaks down all strength, destroying all coping mechanisms, and leading individuals to drink alcohol or use drugs.

Tarzana Treatment Centers makes relapse recovery accessible and affordable for anyone who needs it.  Alcoholism and drug addiction treatment is not as simple as detox and groups anymore.  We offer Vivitrol treatment to reduce alcohol and opiate cravings, and telehealth video conferencing for our clients who can’t get to our treatment centers or live far away.  If finances are a problem, many of our services are covered by Medicare, Medi-Cal, AB 109 funding and other Los Angeles County health care funding programs like Drug Court.

We put great effort into helping you achieve long-term recovery.  We also recognize the commonality of relapse and won’t shame you.  There are no 100% solutions to substance use disorders.  It is rare for anyone to remain clean and sober for life after one treatment episode of any kind.  Our goal is to get you back on your feet so you can put your own effort into long-term recovery.  We can provide you with the best tools available in substance use treatment to improve your chance at success.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Alcoholism Relapse Prevention Plan

by James Heller 9. November 2012 11:25
Regardless of the type of treatment you choose, alcoholism and relapse almost always go hand in hand.  The challenge for a treatment facility is to minimize the risk that each patient has for relapse.  One way is to provide Vivitrol as part of a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program.

Tarzana Treatment Centers provides Vivitrol for eligible patients.  This monthly injection of Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings so individuals can focus on treatment.
 
 
It is rare for an alcoholic to stop drinking and remain sober for life on the first attempt.  This is largely due to the feeling of strong cravings for alcohol when they are “dry”.  Even with the highest motivation for recovery and to abstain from drinking, cravings trigger an urge to drink that is difficult to ignore.  A single urge can last for days, relentlessly keeping the thought in an alcoholics mind that a drink is needed.  The great majority give in in a couple of months, or weeks, or even after only a few hours.

Alcoholism treatment plans always include relapse prevention as one of the goals.  Tried and true methods include positive peer influence, education groups, and gender-specific groups, among many others.  These help alcoholics to bond with others who share their disease, and to uncover what leads them to continue drinking.  Cravings can be a distraction to these, though, and minimize their effectiveness.

With Vivitrol, the distraction of cravings is minimized or eliminated so other relapse prevention efforts can have an impact.  Recovery can be built on a more solid foundation, and set the stage for long-term sobriety.  As strength in recovery grows and positive habits become the norm in an alcoholic’s life, cravings have much less power.  It is not difficult to see how Vivitrol improves the lives of those early in recovery.

Vivitrol treatment is covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal at Tarzana Treatment Centers, and funding is also available through AB 109 and LA County Drug Court.  Please contact us for more information today.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Medi-Cal Can help you to Stop Drinking

by James Heller 31. October 2012 14:43
Tarzana Treatment Centers accepts Medi-Cal for a treatment that will help you to stop drinking.  Our goal is always to set you on a path to long-term sobriety.  Our approach is to combine traditional counseling with mental health treatment and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) where they are necessary.  Vivitrol is one form of MAT that we have found to be very effective.
 
 
The early days of recovery are the most difficult, partially due to the fact that the body is missing a substance that it became accustomed to being present.  The brain is complicated and reacts to the lack of alcohol in the body, even after the detox process, resulting in both physical and psychological symptoms.  Alcohol cravings are one of the strongest symptoms and have the power to send a sober alcoholic back to drinking.

Vivitrol is a monthly injection of Naltrexone that reduces alcohol cravings.  This treatment begins at the completion of medical detoxification, where you will have already participated in several individual and group counseling sessions.  Combined, these treatments enable you to enter recovery without this major relapse trigger.  

Alcohol craving reduction is a tool that frees the mind of alcoholics new to recovery so they can focus on treatment.  It is important for recovering individuals to absorb healthy living techniques and to leave old habits behind.  By removing the distraction of cravings, this can be accomplished much more quickly and effectively.

Vivitrol treatment is covered by Medi-Cal and Medicare for individuals who qualify, and funding is also available through AB 109 and LA County Drug Court.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

If Doctors Would Diagnose Addiction

by James Heller 5. September 2012 14:10
If you consider that there are an estimated 22 million Americans with a drug or alcohol problem, you might assume that doctors regularly diagnose and treat them.  Reality is, though, that most doctors have never been trained to in addiction treatment, and usually treat only the symptoms of the disease.  Fortunately, some new treatments involving medications may change this sad situation.
 
 
One big problem with alcoholism and drug addiction is that so many medical problems result from them.  Substance abuse negatively affects different parts of the body, depending on the drug being used.  Alcohol abuse, without exaggeration, harms every cell in the body.  To the untrained in addiction medicine, the symptoms of these abuses might appear as primary problems, only requiring common treatments.  For example, a doctor may prescribe specialized medication for a bleeding ulcer and schedule a follow-up visit.

Another problem with addiction is that alcoholics and drug addicts are not quick to admit their problems.  Even if a doctor asks about drinking and drug use habits, these patients will minimize or deny it.  Short of the patient arriving at 9:00am and smelling of alcohol, or having injection track marks up and down their arms, untrained doctors will not see a reason to investigate.  The answer is often accepted as true and the doctor looks to heal the symptom.  

The result is that alcoholics and drug addicts get temporary relief from negative symptoms of their disease, but don’t receive, at the very least, guidance from their doctors on how to prevent them in the future.  The worst result is that people die every day from the negative effects of alcoholism and drug addiction.  Most of them could have been saved had they been given early treatment for the primary disease of addiction.

According to this article, there is possible good news on the horizon.  There is an effort to attract doctors to the addiction treatment field, and to promote addiction medicine as a recognized subspecialty.  Medical treatment and new prescription drugs are proving to be effective means of helping addicts to recover.  Counseling for the psycho-social aspects of the disease is still important, but detox and craving reduction medications, like Vivitrol, have become very beneficial in the early days of recovery.

Tarzana Treatment Centers provides Vivitrol treatment for alcohol and opiate craving reduction, for example.  This follows medical detoxification, which is important to avoid the severe effects of withdrawals.  We have seen some great success stories from patients who previously struggled with relapse after their first Vivitrol injection.  

Imagine if doctors could diagnose addiction from the symptoms they normally treat.  They could make a referral to a detox facility, followed with Vivitrol for eligible patients, and maybe residential or outpatient treatment.  Patients tend to listen to doctors more than they would even to their most beloved family members.  Hopefully, the effort mentioned above can spread so more of those who suffer can get the treatment they need.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

The Effects of Alcohol

by James Heller 31. August 2012 14:56
If you have ever had “one too many” and suffered the consequences, you already partially know the answer to the following question: What are the effects of alcohol on the body? Alcohol dependence causes much more damage that a night of drinking.  So why don’t alcoholics stop? Alcohol cravings are one reason, and there is help available to reduce them.

A hangover is nothing more than alcohol withdrawals.  The sad truth is that the most effective cure for a hangover is… more alcohol.  During a night of drinking, the body goes through a form of mini-dependence – for lack of a better term – and actually comes to need alcohol to function properly.  When you wake up the next morning, or “come to”, normal body temperature, oxygen levels in the blood, and other things you never think of, are foreign to the body.  So you sweat and feel awful, but you probably don’t crave alcohol.

Alcoholics sign a virtual contract with alcohol, early on, where they will accept the pain of hangovers in return for the relief they get from drinking.  The agreement slowly evolves into a daily relationship where alcoholics drink alcohol because the effects will be very bad if they don’t.  The effects of alcohol on women set in faster than with men.  Regardless of gender, though, alcohol cravings get stronger with dependence. 
 
 
Tarzana Treatment Centers provides Vivitrol in alcohol treatment.  Vivitrol is a monthly injection that reduces alcohol cravings in the brain.  Our patients are assessed for this treatment during medical detoxification, and will get their first injection when alcohol detox is complete if approved.  With this distraction minimized, long-term recovery is more likely to be achieved.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Rodney King – Alcoholic Death can be Sudden

by James Heller 20. June 2012 09:34
Rodney King has spoken about his alcoholism and drug abuse issues for a few years.  He has appeared on many TV and radio programs, including Celebrity Rehab, and we’ve seen him publicly go between sobriety and relapse a few times.  We are going to bypass what made Mr. King a household name.  We will instead discuss how alcoholism plagued him, and what can prevent future tragic losses.

When King had a lot of money, he tried expensive rehabs.  But the treatment didn’t help.  He tried to publicly go through addiction treatment on television, which looked somewhat promising for a while.  But he was dealing with alcohol-related legal issues a few months later.  King was like most alcoholics who never achieve long-term sobriety.  Sadly, the death toll is very high.  

If Rodney King died by accidentally drowning in a pool while he was drunk, then it highlights the urgency with which alcoholics should seek help.  Any delay can lead to a sudden and tragic loss.  It is difficult to sugar coat these things, so we prefer to state it clearly.  Alcoholics too often say “That won’t be me”, only to be taking a final breath the next day, filled with regret.  

Alcoholics who drink heavily to cover deep-seated emotions usually have trouble focusing in treatment.  The urge to drink is great due to alcohol cravings.  So craving reduction may help them to achieve long-term recovery.  One effective tool for this is Vivitrol, which is a monthly injection of Naltrexone.  Vivitrol removes the distraction of cravings so patients can explore core feelings in alcohol treatment.

Tarzana Treatment Centers is a Vivitrol provider and has seen some amazing results.  Success stories cross all social, gender, and age lines.  Some of our mental health treatment patients have been on Vivitrol treatment and sober for several months, where they previously struggled achieving only weeks of sobriety.  In addition to being safer from accidents, our Vivitrol clients have reported that they get more out of treatment when cravings are out of the way.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Telemedicine Uses – Alcohol Treatment

by James Heller 2. September 2010 14:00
Individuals from all social and economic levels can suffer from alcohol dependence.  When they know they need treatment, some of them can’t access it either because they don’t have time or worry about the social stigma of being an alcoholic.  Recovery may be the only thing that saves their family, job, or finances, though, so they should consider telemedicine as an option.

The homeless people you see on the street are only the public face of alcoholism.  One may work in the office or cubicle next to you, or even live in your own home.  It is estimated that over 1 in 10 Americans suffer today.  No matter who they are, at some time, hopefully, they realize that they need alcohol treatment.  Sadly, many will postpone or decline this addiction treatment for several reasons.

Entering alcohol treatment is still wrongly stigmatized as a weakness for a large segment of society.  Individuals in positions of authority and possibly well known, in business and politics, very often place public status over their own health, and think they will be okay without treatment.  But for every one individual who seems to be “living a party” and still making a living in the news, there are thousands who will lose everything.  

Successful alcohol treatment does require a time commitment from patients and their loved ones.  The patient needs to attend individual and group sessions to work through life issues that will prevent relapse.  Family and friends need to also attend groups to work on themselves as well as to provide support for the patient.  The resistance is not so much about attending the sessions, but more about the travel time and coordination of schedules that makes people nervous.  When one knows they need treatment, they should get it.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides telemedicine for individuals who have these reasons, and many others, to not seek alcohol treatment.  Sessions are conducted by video conference over the browser-based TherapyLiveVisit application, powered by MDLiveCare.  Participants in telemedicine only need a computer with a webcam and internet connection.  All sessions are secure and confidential, running behind several layers of encryption.

These individuals who need help with alcohol abuse or dependence can now get it before problems mount too high.  Eliminating regular trips to an alcohol treatment center solves the stigma and time issues.  There is no need to explain sudden regular “nights out” to those who may pry, and all sessions can be conducted at home or work.  Travel time is eliminated, along with the hassle of loading the family in a car.  Also, distant family members can participate in family sessions, which is a great benefit.

Telemedicine at Tarzana Treatment Centers is not limited to addiction treatment.  We also provide online mental health treatment and online medical care.  Our goal is to see that those who need treatment can get it.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Alcohol Dependence and Drug Addiction -Tolerance

by James Heller 18. May 2010 13:48
Tolerance, as it relates to alcohol dependence and drug addiction, is often misunderstood by many in the general public.  In the manner that drug and alcohol tolerance functions, it can be a safety mechanism to the body and, at the same time, deadly.  This makes awareness of the subject critical for anyone who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse, as well as those in recovery.

It can easily be assumed that tolerance means that an individual can drink more alcohol without getting drunk, or handle drug use in a seemingly controlled manner.  With this assumption comes the belief that these “abilities” are an example of the natural differences that exist from one individual to another.  While this is partially true, the nature of alcohol and drug tolerance is much more complicated.

Alcohol tolerance is the example with which most people can relate.  Consider the amount of alcohol you need to drink before you feel the effects, or “buzzed”.  Let’s say this is 2 beers.  If you drink 2 beers every day, over time you will feel less of an effect.  If you want to feel the same effect, you must drink more alcohol.  The amount of alcohol needed for the same feeling will continue to increase as you add more alcohol.  

The same concept works with drugs.  Alcohol abuse or drug abuse can result from tolerance since individuals will chase that feeling by drinking or using more on each occasion.  If the cycle continues with regular daily alcohol or drug intake, the body can become physically dependent and alcoholism or drug addiction is the result.  

On this road to addiction that we just followed, the brain has protected the body from overdose, with tolerance, by adjusting to the higher levels of substance use.  This benefit of drug tolerance can become a dangerous consequence, though, for recovering individuals who relapse.  The addicted brain still needs a large amount of drugs for an effect, but the body returns to a lower tolerance of what is essentially a poison.

At the time of first use on a relapse, the brain will dictate the most recent amount of drugs used to get a desired effect.  If the formerly recovering addict is not careful, this amount can easily cause a drug overdose or even be fatal.  Many drug addicts are not aware of this fact, and will even ignore warnings from fellow drug users because they don’t realize the consequences they face.

While alcoholics are less likely to overdose on alcohol during first use on a relapse, they may experience what is known as a lack of tolerance.  At this point, a drunken feeling may result from only 1 drink.  Lack of tolerance can actually occur with anyone who drinks alcohol, but it is typically coupled with alcohol dependence.  Of course, that 1 drink will still not be enough to satisfy alcoholics and they can become a danger to themselves through inebriation and alcohol’s effect on the body.

This information is good to share with teens, friends in recovery, or anyone you may know who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  Too many see tolerance as a benefit both early in substance use and in addiction.  Tolerance is explained in effective alcohol and drug treatment as part of addiction education groups to prevent accidental overdoses among those who may relapse.  Bringing this awareness to the general public may save even more lives.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment and addiction education.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

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Senior Alcohol Abuse - Damaging Effects

by James Heller 12. May 2010 15:07
Senior alcohol abuse is often more difficult to correct than with any other group in America.  By age 60, most individuals are set in their ways and don’t feel the need to change anything.  In fact, many seniors are aware of the risks they face with heavy drinking and continue seemingly without care.  Loved ones may feel helpless, but solutions exist.

About 40% of those over 60 say they drink alcohol, with almost one-third of them admitting to binge drinking and heavy drinking, or alcohol dependence.  These statistics come from a 2007 report at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies website.  This means that about 1 in 10 seniors at least binge drink on occasion, which can be very dangerous to their health and that of others.  

Many external changes happen with individuals when they reach age 60.  Retirement is imminent if it has not already occurred, friends begin to move away or pass away, and family members may even suggest a change of residence.  Worst of all, the mind and body begin to show signs of aging, meaning that doctor visits become common and more medications need to be taken.  All of these can be terribly stressful on anyone when they are grouped into a few short years.

Boredom, loneliness, and a sense of powerlessness can each lead anyone to drink alcohol.  Whether it is a time-filler or an escape from negative feelings doesn’t matter.  The end result is that it works and leads to earlier drinking times and less time outside the home.  Senior alcohol abuse may even be a purposeful celebration of the golden years.  The daily party begins with joy, but can quickly turn to injury or a fatality.

This can all be very harmful for seniors due to interactions with medications, a higher risk of falling, and aging major organs.  If alcohol dependence sets in, the effects on the body and brain are more detrimental to seniors than anyone else.  The celebrators, in freedom, usually drive under the influence.  Yet most seniors who abuse alcohol either hide it or justify it, and accept the risks.

Family members who see the alcohol abuse will often accept the behavior as a rite of passage.  Considering the years they have lived, why would a loved one deny what seems well deserved? And if nobody gets hurt, all is okay.  That is, until somebody gets hurt or health problems develop.  Some seniors will stop the behavior at this point, but most will continue to drink heavily and probably more.

There are 2 things that loved ones can do at this point.  The first is to strongly suggest alcohol detox and alcohol treatment.  But most people in their 60’s today will see that as a sign of weakness and refuse, and family members generally won’t force the issue.  Doing so may get the elderly alcoholic into treatment, but he or she will only benefit if self-motivated.  So keep suggesting, with love, and let them make the decision.

Second, you can set boundaries and stick to them.  If they refuse to quit drinking or cut down, suggest accompanying them to the doctor so you can discuss medication interactions.  Let them know you understand that they are not concerned with their own health, but you are concerned with the health of others including yourself and younger members of the family.  It may be hard, but you must be firm, with love, and continue to suggest alcohol treatment.

To the younger generations, seniors who refuse to change these behaviors seem stubborn.  However, like any other individual who engages in alcohol abuse, the bottom line is that they are escaping from emotions.  Instead of arguing and treating them like children, it is best to discuss feelings as much as possible.  Avoid forcing the issue of senior alcohol treatment, and use gentle, loving nudges.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides alcohol and drug treatment for seniors in a culturally sensitive manner.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.