Care Managers + Substance Abuse

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According to the National Institute on Aging, baby boomers have been found to have a higher rate of substance abuse than their parents. Current research has identified a range of factors that contribute to this growing epidemic–primary among them is maintenance of physical pain. Starting in the early 50s, many people find themselves having to contend with health challenges that moderately or significantly impact their lifestyle, often requiring some form of pain management. Cognitive processes in middle-aged adults undergo changes influencing how health issues are addressed. Statistics show an increasing dependency on alcohol and other substances. A 2015 report by Behavioral Health News titled Substance Abuse and Misuse in Older Adults” cites 20-25 percent of those aged 50 and older having a substance abuse problem. According to the report, alcoholism is the most prevalent followed by overuse of prescription medications.

In cases of ongoing substance abuse, the role of a care manager is especially critical. Coordinating a mental and behavioral health support team for those struggling with addiction is a key responsibility. He or she collaborates with mental health providers–as well as the primary care physician–in assessing the appropriate course of treatment based on the client’s behavioral history and pattern of use. In the administration of treatment, the support team ensures a sufficient level of functioning is maintained as the person works toward recovery. The care manager may also educate the client on common psychological disorders that stem from substance abuse particular to that client’s situation. In many cases, continual intensive therapy is required in which the care manager also takes an active role. Individual case assessment and suggested methods of treatment are highly sensitive issues that only a certified care manager is qualified to take part in.

When people consider the job of a care manager, they seldom think of the recovering alcohol or drug user. The standard assumption is providing assistance for the elderly or those with physical disabilities. The reality is a care manager is met with a diversity of clients with wide-ranging needs, placing unique demands on the profession. Having a keen sensitivity to the social and psycho-spiritual requisites of the work cannot be overstated. Addiction thwarts the path toward equilibrium and is a challenge designated for the uniquely skilled professional. Given the complexities of medical and addiction/recovery treatment, daily communication with the client is often one of the simplest yet most significant responsibilities a care manager assumes. Establishing a solid support system is integral to the process of recovery. Given the numbers of those struggling with addiction, taking time to educate oneself on the background of certified life care managers is essential. The personal relationship with the client is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of addiction-recovery work.

 

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