Opioid crisis, state's response topic of meeting at Caron


A member of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's cabinet has gotten a first-hand look at the approach to treating opioid addiction in Berks County.

Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne visited Caron Treatment Centers in South Heidelberg Township on Tuesday to discuss the Wolf administration's statewide opioid disaster declaration.

Caron's older adult program provides psychological, psychiatric, and medical services in support of each patient's transformation a healthy and productive lifestyle.

"Substance use disorder and addiction is a growing problem for seniors whose unique circumstances require specialized treatment," Osborne said. "The Wolf administration's efforts to support lifelong recovery for all Pennsylvanians facing the disease of addiction is reflected in Caron's approach to provide age-specific treatment options that ensure that older adults can access the care they need with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Addiction in older adults is one of the country's fastest-growing health issues, officials said, with 2.5 million older adults having an alcohol or drug problem. They cited statistics of widowers over the age of 75 having the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S., and older adults being hospitalized as often for alcohol-related problems as they are for heart attacks.

Unfortunately, they added, addiction in older adults can be hard to detect because warning signs mimic insomnia, forgetfulness, and other age-related health issues.

"Today's older adults typically have more complex needs that require a fully integrated approach to treatment, which includes addressing co-occurring behavioral and medical problems and issues such as grief and loss," said Dr. Joseph Garbely, Caron's vice president of medical services and medical director. "It's critical that they receive ethical, quality treatment in a setting that addresses every facet of their lives to ensure the best possible outcomes."

Late last year, Caron opened a new facility that, officials said, will help them better serve older adults.

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