How to Avoid Relapse Around Addicted Family Members

When you leave the lifestyle of active addiction, one of the biggest challenges is reconnecting with people from your old life. Many of them knew you when you were using, and some of them might still be using, too. However, what can you do when the person in your life who’s still using is a family member?

Dealing with drug use in your family is always a challenge. Knowing the difference between helping and enabling can be difficult at times. And watching someone go through something as terrible and life-altering as active addiction can cause heartache. However, when you have your own recovery and sobriety to consider, the challenge increases dramatically.

Maintaining your sobriety is one of the most important ongoing parts of your recovery, and it requires continual commitment. If a loved one is using around you, it poses a significant threat to your drug abstinence. Learn more about how you can deal with an addicted family member without relapsing.  

Don’t Accept Drug Use

As part of your relapse prevention plan, you might have set rules and boundaries for yourself. You might have resolved to avoid parties where you know there will be drug use. You may even avoid certain routes that go past some of your old favorite bars.

When you encounter friends and family members who are still in the throes of active addiction, it’s important to have boundaries for them, too. If you live with or spend a lot of time with someone who uses, you should let them know that you won’t tolerate drug use in your presence. If someone uses legal recreational substances like alcohol, you can still tell them that it makes you uncomfortable to be around it.

Setting clear boundaries for yourself removes some of the uncertainty when it comes to certain high-risk situations. It’s easier not to cross the line when the line is clearly drawn. Setting boundaries with someone who is addicted can also show them your commitment to sobriety. In some cases, you may have to cut ties with them until they seek recovery.

Avoid Constant Triggers

Triggers are a fact of life for people who are living in recovery from addiction or other mental health issues for that matter. Some triggers come from inside your own mind and can be difficult to avoid completely. Others can come on suddenly, like when a billboard ad for some ice-cold beer triggers alcohol cravings. While it’s important to learn to cope positively with cravings and triggers, you should also avoid regular sources of triggers when you can. A friend or family member who continues to use around you can cause you to continually cause you to have thoughts and triggers toward relapse, testing the limits of your coping mechanisms.

If you have gone through addiction treatment, you may have experienced elements ofcognitive behavioral therapy at some point in your treatment process. In the cognitive-behavioral model, high-risk scenarios are the first catalyst for a relapse. A relapse doesn’t start with the first time you use again; it starts with the way that you cope with a high-risk situation. If you live with, or if you are always around someone who uses, you are constantly in a high-risk scenario. Relapse is a very real threat to recovery. Like other chronic diseases, addiction relapse occurs in more than50 percent of people in recovery.  

Avoiding triggers might mean distancing yourself from people who are still using. While this may sound harsh, it might be as beneficial to your addicted family member as much as it is for you.

Don’t Be an Enabler

While you were going through active addiction and treatment, your family may have had to learn how to avoidenabling behaviors. Now that you’ve completed treatment, and you’re encountering other people in your life in active addiction, it’s important to learn to avoid enabling as well. If a family member is struggling with active addiction, you, more than anyone, understand what they are going through. You might want to help them, ease their pain, or cover for them.

However, enabling is often defined as shielding an addicted person from a consequence of their addiction. Softening the blows that are coming as a result of their actions and behaviors can prolong the time they spend in active addiction before seeking help. If you’ve set clear rules about being around drug and alcohol use and abuse and a family member continues to break them, one of the consequences of their addiction might be that they see you less often.

It may seem like a drastic move, but if a family member is putting your sobriety at risk, it might be best to remove yourself from those high-risk situations. You can let the addicted person in your life know that you will be there to help them find addiction treatment as soon as they agree to seek the help they need. However, risking your own sobriety to be around someone who is using, may only serve to enable them and risk your recovery.

Continue Your Recovery

Addiction treatment is important in achieving and learning how to maintain sobriety. However, after you complete your addiction treatment, it’s important to continue your pursuit of recovery. People often relapse when they become complacent in their recovery process, and when you encounter high-risk situations like a using family member, it puts a strain on your resolve. However, going to 12 step meetings, connecting with your support group, and connecting with your alumni coordinators, can help heal you on the road to recovery, even as new challenges pop up.

Seeking Addiction Help

If a loved one or family member is ready to address their substance use disorder, you might be able to help them find the right addiction treatment services for their needs. Call the addiction treatment specialists at The Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574 or contact us online to learn more about the available therapy options and how you can help your loved one get the care they need. If you are worried that you might need help preventing your own relapse, or if you’ve started to use again, we might be able to help you find additional treatment or aftercare services as well. Call anytime.


Baby Boomer Blues: The Reality of Substance Abuse Among Older Adults

The disease of addiction is on the rise today, more than ever before. As if the harsh realities of addiction weren’t frightening enough, the baby boomer generation makes up a large number of people who are addicted to either drugs, alcohol, or both! Substance abuse among older adults often goes unnoticed as there are numerous misunderstandings about this generation as a whole.

Often times, these issues tend to be overlooked and undertreated due to the daily routines and lifestyles of the baby boomers.

Years 1946-1964

The baby boomers got their names from the increase in births following the end of World War II. In the United States today, this generation consists of about 74.9 million people. Today, this generation ranges in age from the early 50s to the early 70s.

Society’s views and ideas during this time were slowly changing, both positively and negatively, depending on perspective. This was a time of radical change in cultural views otherwise known as the “free love” movement. Basically “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” became the motto of the youth of this generation. Ultimately, these cultural ideas set the tone for future generations and their outlook toward addiction, use of alcohol, or other substances.

However, as this generation grows older, baby boomers face the repercussions of their newly found culture in increasing numbers. Addiction, as well as its consequences, are rapidly changing the way society views substance abuse among older adults today.

Yet, there is still an alarmingly high number of older adults who are underdiagnosed with substance abuse disorder.

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults

It is inevitable for any generation to age and develop health issues. Generally, as people grow older, health begins to decline. This decline can either come slowly or rapidly, depending on the individual. Genetics and self-care play a large factor in this; however, adding substance abuse or alcoholism to the equation creates more room for disaster rather quickly and more noticeably.

Aside from health issues, age brings on many other life changes such as:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Family obligations
  • Changes in work or retirement
  • Physical pain
  • Stress
  • Loneliness

Ironically enough, some of these issues can even lead older adults to turn toward drugs or alcohol if they hadn’t done so yet. Usually, addiction presents itself before an individual grows old; however, it is possible that an older adult might become addicted to medications they may be prescribed due to their age. They may also use drugs and alcohol to cope with their daily struggles as an older adult.

Oftentimes substance abuse among older adults goes unnoticed due to the misconception that older generations cannot be addicts. Rather, it is important to realize that addiction does not discriminate against age, and, therefore, the consequences of any addict remain the same. Underestimating the grips of substance abuse among older adults can lead to dangerous situations, including death.

The Difference Between Age and Addiction

Substance abuse in older adults is becoming more prevalent than ever in today’s day and age. Yet older adults are more often than not underdiagnosed by healthcare professionals. Addiction, especially in older adults, can sometimes be difficult to detect, possibly due to the increase in addiction among younger generations.

While substance abuse among older adults is often referred to as a hidden problem, there are certain behaviors to look out for in an individual of the baby boomer generation.

A few of these symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Not only can the symptoms of old age and addiction become intermingled, but older adults also tend to hide their addiction or alcoholism fairly well, making it even more difficult to determine the underlying causes of their actions or feelings.


Generally, one might think that drug abuse would decline as the individual ages. However, evidence supports that older adults make up a large number of those who suffer from addiction and substance abuse.

A growing trend between substance abuse and older adults is the increase in opioid abuse currently running rampant in the United States. It is not only sweeping the nation’s young people, but the most common type of drug abused within the baby boomer generation are opioids. This can include prescription painkillers, such as Oxycodone, Fentanyl, or Morphine, or street drugs like Heroin.

This can be quite alarming due to the image an older adult may give off. However, aside from alcohol, another commonly abused substance of the baby boomers, it is one of the leading causes of hospital visits and drug-related deaths in the older community.

Treating Substance Abuse in Older Adults

The treatment dynamic for older adults differs slightly than those targeted for treating individuals in a younger age group, primarily because older adults, despite their addiction, commonly have physical or cognitive health issues that require special attention.

Not only is it common for older adults to enter a treatment facility with their addiction and other health issues, but they are quickly becoming the largest demographic in the United States. This can become difficult for treatment centers because they may not have enough room for the growing population of addicts and alcoholics seeking treatment.

Also, in regards to treatment facilities, substance abuse among older adults requires a knowledgeable staff. There are many factors that go into treating an older individual who suffers from addiction. It can become complicated due to health issues, overall mental state, and certain medications they may be prescribed at the time of entering treatment.

Seeking Treatment?

Recovering from addiction is not an easy task, especially if you or someone you love is an older adult. However, there are options and there is help available. At Palm Beach Institute, we have experience and knowledge in treating older adults who suffer from both addiction and other health complications. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and willing to seek help, call (855) 534-3574 or contact us online today. We are available 24/7 to assist with any questions or concerns regarding yourself or a loved one.

How to Get a Parent to Quit Drinking

alcoholic parentHow You Can Help a Parent Quit Drinking

According to a report done by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, more than 28 million Americans have seen the effects of alcohol abuse with a parent with more than 78 million Americans, or 43 percent of the adult population, being exposed to alcoholism in the family. Growing up in a family where one or both of the parents are alcoholic can prove to be so painful and emotionally traumatic that many years later the adult child will still be suffering from the scars. Frequently, as children they had to become “superchildren,” responsible for running the family, feeding their parents, while constantly living in fear of their parents.


Characteristics: Are You an Adult Child of an Alcoholic?

Several characteristics of adult children of alcoholics were outlined in 1983 by Dr. Janet Woititz ‘s Adult Children of Alcoholics:

  • Fear of losing control—Adult children of alcoholics maintain control over their behavior and feelings. They also try to control the behavior and feelings of others. They do this because they are afraid, not because they want to hurt themselves or others. Generally, ACOA’s are adept at switching roles, from being the parent to their parent, to trying to keep a happy, healthy demeanor at school. So, the children and adult children wear many hats, or masks.
  • Avoid conflict—Adult children of alcoholics are generally fearful of authority figures and angry people. Also, most ACOA’s do not take personal criticism very well. Often, they misinterpret assertiveness for anger.
  • Denial—When adult children of alcoholics feel threatened, they tend to deny what provokes their fears.
  • Victim Mentality—Adult children of alcoholics may be either passive or aggressive victims and are often attracted to others like them, in friendships, coworkers, and intimate relationships.
  • Attracted to Compulsive Personalities—Many lose themselves in their relationship with others and sometimes find themselves attracted to alcoholics, or to other compulsive personalities— such as workaholics. They are generally attracted to those who are emotionally unavailable. Adult children sometimes like to be the “rescuer” and will form relationships with others who need their help, to the extent of neglecting their own needs. Codependency is a very common trait amongst ACOA’s.

Ways to Help Parents Quit Drinking

For children of parents who abuse alcohol, finding constructive options to help their parents deal with this issue is paramount—the psychological scars stemming from their parents’ alcohol abuse, combined with the strong possibility that the genetic traits for alcoholism may be inherited, result in a very high percentage of alcoholism—25 percent—among children of alcoholics. Even if the child does not become an adult alcoholic, other psychological problems may result, such as obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Some ways that children of parents with alcohol abuse issues can help them quit drinking should include the following:

  1. Understand what alcoholism is—for many who suffer from alcohol abuse, the underlying cause is depression. It is also important to know that the parent is ultimately responsible for their actions.
  2. Communication—if possible, trying talking to the parent when they are sober. Instead of taking a berating tone, try approaching them as the concerned child by bringing to their attention that certain issues have arisen as a result of their drinking. Make it clear their behavior will not be tolerated and encourage discussion about possible alternatives that may be available in regards to dealing with their issues such as adult treatment options.
  3. Avoid arguments—if at all possible, refrain from getting into heated exchanges especially if the parent has been drinking. In addition to the potential for a physical confrontation, the parent may not remember the argument the next day or when they sober up. Avoid nagging overtones.
  4. Don’t Start Drinking Yourself—Children of alcoholics are three to four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. Remember everything about your parent when drunk that you do not like and keep that in mind if you’re tempted.
  5. Realization—Many alcoholic parents blame their children for their alcoholism. Even without having the finger pointed at you, it may feel like the fault is yours. It isn’t. Your parent is the one who chooses to drink, not you.

These suggestions are among many that can be utilized when dealing with parents who are experiencing alcohol abuse issues. If the parent can admit there is a problem and is seeking help, finding an adult rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addiction is a logical step to pursue. Many of these treatment facilities also offer family programs so the loved ones of those who are struggling can get the support and guidance they need in the process.

Resources and Help for Adult Children of Alcoholics

ACOA—Adult Children of Alcoholics— is the main support group for this demographic. It is a twelve-step based mutual self-help support group similar in structure to AA, NA, and other twelve-step programs. Like AA, ACOA’s foundation is found in AA’s the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Additionally, there are other self-help groups, such as Al-Anon and Alateen. These fellowships serve a common purpose: to “help families of alcoholics” by sharing their “experience, strength and hope … .” (One Day at a Time in Al Anon). By practicing the Steps themselves, members welcome and give “comfort to families of alcoholics” (ODAT). The focus begins with self, especially in the change of attitudes and behaviors toward those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism. The recovery process unfolds gently, helping those affected by addictive behavior to process their history, and examine how their behavior is tied to that history.


Sex, Drugs, and Ozzy: Older Adults Are Struggling with Addiction

ozzy-osbourne-1Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne recently revealed to the public that he is receiving “intense therapy” for his sex addiction, a condition he says he has been secretly struggling with for six years.

The British icon, whose real name is John Michael Osbourne, says he has had multiple affairs throughout those six years that have affected his family and threatened to end his 34-year marriage to wife, Sharon.

He disclosed via a statement to the media in early August, saying, “Over the last six years, I have been dealing with a sex addiction,” after the media exposed his affair with his hair colorist.

“Out of bad comes good,” Ozzy said in the statement. “Since the press exposed this, I have gone into intense therapy. I am mortified at what my behavior has done to my family. I thank God that my incredible wife is at my side to support me.”

Sharon, 63, confirmed his treatment for sex addiction during an episode of The Talk, where she is a co-host.

“He’s been going [to] outpatient [therapy] for sex addiction for the last three months and after the tour … he goes into inpatient for three months,” she said. “It’s hard, because it affects the whole family … I’m proud that he’s come out and admitted it finally.”

Ozzy’s an Open Book About Substance Abuse Battles

It is one more admission to add to the list for Ozzy. He is no stranger to addiction, and the fact that he isn’t is widely known. Now 67, some regard the baby boomer as one of the most famous recovering addicts in history, a reputation he earned during the decades he abused drugs and alcohol. His nearly 50-year career is filled with stories about his drinking and drugging that took place with band members and while alone.

“Ozzy has made no secret of his battle with drink and drugs, which included a heroin addiction and a heavy cocaine habit alongside cannabis, LSD and a host of prescription medication which he would routinely down with bottles of booze,” writes The Daily Mirror.

In 1979, his erratic behavior linked to his issues with substance abuse prompted his Black Sabbath bandmates to kick him out of the group, and in the past, he has referred to a 40-year period of his life as a “bender,” slang for a wild binge-drinking spree. So, the aging metal icon has been candid and open about his struggles.

Ozzy and Black Sabbath recently reconnected to put on a farewell tour for fans. None of them drink or do drugs anymore, the rocker said.

The fact that Ozzy is still alive and kicking after his long history with drugs and alcohol was so puzzling to scientists that a few years back, they started to work on mapping his genetic code to see how he managed to live a long time despite his abuse.

Addiction in Later Life: Can We Talk About It?

During the episode of The Talk, his wife, Sharon, said it’s easier to disclose struggles with alcohol and drugs, but “when it’s somebody that has a sex addiction, it’s embarrassing,” she said.

Some may see it differently.

While drug and alcohol addiction could be easier to talk about because they are discussed more in the media (and because they affect a wide range of groups), people age 65 and older who are struggling with addiction aren’t what comes to mind when the subject is discussed.

There are people in Ozzy’s generation who continue to struggle with any, or perhaps all, of the three: addictions to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Yet, their challenges often don’t make it into the public forum on substance abuse. Such challenges do not come up in everyday conversation, and these issues are still hard to talk about for many in the 65-plus age group. For some, it is even harder to ask for the help they know they need or find the motivation to step foot into places where they can get it.

Seniors: A Silent Demographic


It is widely known that addiction does not discriminate and that it affects people of different ages and in different stages of their lives. However, certain groups of the population continue to suffer in silence and watch their lives become unmanageable before they spiral out of control.

Ozzy Osbourne’s courage to admit his sex addiction is more than just gossip mill fodder. This latest chapter in his life is an opportunity to address issues facing seniors with addiction, be it involving alcohol, drugs, sex, or other things. It also is a chance to encourage people in their golden years that they can make a new start, even if it happens later in life.

September is National Recovery Month, and in recognition of it, the Palm Beach Institute is taking a closer look at addiction among older people and how they are affected. In 2012, the older population–people who were age 65 and older–numbered at 43.1 million that year.

According to Jennifer Ortman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Projections Branch, “the United States is projected to age significantly over this period, with 20 percent of its population age 65 and over by 2030.”

What’s Next?

We can expect that the issues today’s seniors face, which include addiction, will only continue, and they deserve our attention and focus. This four-part series will explore addiction and dependence in older adults–why it happens, who it happens to, and what can be done about it.

Stay tuned next Tuesday, Sept. 13, for “Sex, Drugs, and Ozzy: Age Won’t Slow Down Senior Drinking,” which addresses alcohol and substance abuse addiction among older adults.

Drug & Alcohol Treatment for Older Adults

The signs of alcoholism and drug abuse are different in older adults as compared to younger people. In older populations, drinking and drug use is often hidden. This is due to a number of factors including that older adults often live alone and may be retired and away from peers and co-workers who may have noticed their increasingly abnormal behavior. Older adults also don’t drive as much as younger people do and therefore do not get cited or arrested for driving under the influence.

Signs that an older adult may have a drinking or drug problem include solitary drinking or sneaking drinks during public or family functions, loss of interest in hobbies, hostility or depression, use of drugs and alcohol despite the dangers of use with prescription drugs, and confusion or loss of memory. Approaching an older adult with a substance abuse problem can be difficult because using labels such as addict or alcoholic may cause an older individual to retreat further away from support and deeper into their substance abuse behavior.

There can be other roadblocks for older adults in regards to seeking and receiving treatment. One roadblock is ageism, or the tendency for a society to paint negative stereotypes to older adults. Instead of focusing on their problems in a medical or social context, the problem is attributed to a person being older. As a result of the effects of ageism, older adults may shy away from seeking treatment or have fears that the quality of treatment may diminish due to their age.

Another roadblock is an overall lack of awareness that older adults struggle with drug and alcohol problems. This lack of awareness coupled with the continuing stigma of addiction in society as a whole can put up a barrier between the older adult and the treatment they may need. Older adults tend to be more sensitive to labels and stigma in comparison to younger age groups. Within the older adult populations, there are subsets that may experience more barriers to recovery such as older women, older minority populations and those older adults who are homebound.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the following criteria should be features in recovery programs for older adults:

  • Group treatment that is age-specific, supportive and non-confrontational
  • Special focus on depression, loneliness, and loss
  • Rebuilding social support networks
  • Treatment staff should be interested in working with older adults
  • Pace and content of treatment is appropriate for older populations
  • Treatment should be linked to other medical services that serve the aging community

There should be also an emphasis on building those protective factors that promote healthy behavior and creates an empowerment mindset. That can include access to housing and healthcare, access to groups that foster strong social and community bonds, education and skills training and access to volunteer opportunities among other programs.

Need Help?

Substance abuse among the aging and elderly often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed, especially in longtime drug and/or alcohol users. If you, or someone you know, have an older parent, spouse or another family member, friend or someone else you are concerned about who is an older person battling addiction, call (855) 534-3574 now to speak with one of our Palm Beach Institute specialists. They can help you find a treatment program tailored to your specific needs today. They are standing by around the clock, waiting for your call.