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Senior drug addictions

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January 31, 2005

Albany-- As the elderly population continues to grow and baby boomers move into their senior years, the number of older adults who abuse drugs from pain pills to marijuana and crack-cocaine is increasing. One local recovery center is working to meet the special needs of older addicts.

Many Senior adults are battling addictions to alcohol and pain killers, but they are also fighting addictions to street drugs.

One South Georgia Man in his senior years is finally ready to turn his life around to beat a serious addiction to alcohol and crack-cocaine.

Sixty-two-year-old Charles Wilkerson is a helping hand at Agape Recovery Outreach Institute . He's a reliable maintenance man and has remodeled an entire office after it was destroyed in a fire, but he's also there to get help for a major alcohol and drug addiction.

"Alcohol and drugs kind of destroyed me," he admits. Wilkerson began drinking in his early twenties. "I really got crossed up with this trying to follow the crowd, trying to be in the in-crowd, but after losing a successful painting business, spending about 10 years behind bars and disappointing loved ones over and over again. Now I know that was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life."

A mistake that also led to an addiction of Crack-cocaine that would keep his children constantly worried. "I want to try and straighten out so they can go on with their lives and they don't have to worry about, is dad out there in a ditch somewhere. I wonder is dad out there. I wonder if dad's done got killed?"

It took Wilkerson years to admit he needed help. "When you can't pay your water bill, light bill, pay your rent, cable bill as you know got to be paid, that's when your life comes unmanageable, and I realized my life had become unmanageable."

A life that he's working hard to improve. "You know things will work out."

Wilkerson believes he can beat his serious alcohol and drug addiction, but can only do it one day at a time.

Charles Wilkerson also told us today that he's had five friends in his age group die as a result of drug and alcohol addictions. About ten percent of Agape's clientele are senior adults.

posted at 5:10PM by dave.miller@walb.com