We arrived in millions in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. We are the Baby Boomers and we are at last ready (or almost ready) for retirement. Yet many of us have run into unforeseen problems, and find ourselves:
• Too old to be young, too young to be old
• Caring for elderly parents and financially compromised adult children, many with families
• Not old enough for Medicare and struggling to pay the high rates of health insurance
• Wanting to retire but financially unable
• Retiring and finding that we have lost our identity along with the job, not knowing what to do with the time on our hands
• Having certain expectations about retirement that, through no fault of our own (loss of pension, money on the market, loss of spouse or loved ones) will never be met
Couple these stresses with the availability of drugs and alcohol, and frustrated Baby Boomers may just well be the next explosion of addicts on the horizon. According to John Dyben, Director of the Hanley Center for the Treatment of Addictions in West Palm Beach Florida, 70 percent of their patients last year were Baby Boomers. He has reported that there are over 4 million people over the age of 50 afflicted by substance abuse, and by the year 2020 the need for addiction treatment among this age group will have doubled. In May of this year, the Hanley Center initiated "Freedom Program for the Boomers" in order to deal with the stresses that are specific to this demographic.
For those of us that either choose not to go into treatment or are financially unable there are other programs (such as 12-Step meetings) that cost nothing. For those who can't get out, live in remote areas or simply need support between meetings, there are new online sites such as www.intherooms.com that have thousands of participants for many different types of addiction.
Remember that you are not alone. There are millions of us out there dealing with addictions. If you worry that you might have a problem or if alcohol or drugs are causing negative outcomes in your life, you probably have an addiction. As a recovering addict and Baby Boomer, I can tell you that if you have crossed that fine line into addiction that you will probably lose not only possessions, but your dignity, self-respect and the respect of others as the problem progresses. No matter what your age, there is help at hand. But you must reach out for it. As the 1960s anthem states so well, we can all "get by with a little help from our friends."
Barb Rogers, author of "If I Die Before I Wake: A Memoir of Drinking and Recovery," as well as many other books on addiction and the recovery process, can be contacted at www.barbrogersinspirations.com.
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