Not As Prescribed by Harry Haroutunian

Not As Prescribed book cover (1)

Not As Prescribed
Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults

by Harry Haroutunian, M.D.

“Not As Prescribed is a valiant effort at helping concerned loved ones and caregivers of older adults understand the dynamics behind [drug and alcohol problems]. Getting my mom to treatment, and then a life of recovery, wasn’t easy, but it was a miracle to us. Every life is worth saving.”

Susan Ford Bales, daughter of Betty Ford
Not As Prescribed Foreword

Statistics show that 17 percent of older adults ages sixty and up have an alcohol or drug problem, compared with 10 percent of the overall population. By 2020, the number of addicted older adults is expected to double to six million, says Harry Haroutunian, MD, in his new book, Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults (Hazelden; April 19, 2016; $15.95; Original Trade Paperback).

With an increasing population of aging Baby Boomers, Dr. Haroutunian is addressing the problem at a critical time. Many adults over the age of 50 experience life changes, both large and small. When combined with the additional pressures that may come from loneliness or depression, these can create circumstances that make it easier for older adults to overindulge in alcohol or accidentally misuse medications prescribed to them by doctors.

Not As Prescribed

In Not As Prescribed, Dr. Haroutunian discusses the challenges individuals age 50 and older may face. He explains how they can develop problems from substance misuse and what caregivers and loved ones should look for to stop a pattern from developing into a more serious addiction.

Not As Prescribed is a comprehensive guide for people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol as well as those who want to help their loved ones. Important topics Dr. Haroutunian covers include:

  • The distinction between the symptoms of aging, polypharmacy (the use of four or more medications by a patient), and addiction.
  • Which prescription drugs and medical conditions can mimic dementia.
  • The difference between abuse and dependence, or misuse and addiction.
  • Why an older adult may turn to drugs and alcohol.
  • The relationship between prescription painkillers and addiction.
  • Tips to help caregivers talk with an older adult’s doctor about the need for and proper use of prescriptions.
  • Information about how and where to find treatment for older adults, and recommendations to help them stay on track in recovery.

Not As Prescribed bravely outlines a condition that could become an epidemic among older adults. Filled with anecdotes and stories from older adults who have achieved recovery, statistics and facts about drug and alcohol use in this demographic, and a wealth of useful information for caregivers who want to take helpful action, Not As Prescribed is a vital resource that will save lives and families.

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Harry Haroutunian, MD, is an internationally known speaker and authority on addiction-oriented topics—including drug misuse among older adults. He is widely read online and has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and Dr. Drew On Call as well as in The New York Times and Cosmopolitan. Board certified in both addiction and family medicine, Dr. Haroutunian serves as physician director of professional and residential programs at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. He is the author of Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide To, Getting Through, and Living in Recovery.

Craving by Omar Manejwala, M.D.


Chocolate, sex, travel, a glass of wine, a new pair of shoes, french fries—these are all things people may indulge in from time to time.  For the most part, feeding these desires is a simple way to enjoy life, but what happens when a little pleasure becomes an overwhelming need that cannot be satisfied?  Omar Manejwala, M.D., the chief medical officer at Catasys and the author of the new book CRAVING: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough (Hazelden Publishing; April 2013; $14.95; Original Trade Paperback), defines craving as a “strong desire that, if unfulfilled, produces a powerful physical and mental suffering.”  A true craving can lead to a serious problem. According to Manejwala, current research shows that psychology, culture and brain chemistry hold the clues to why we may never be satisfied—but they also show how we can overcome these urges and compulsions.

In CRAVING Manejwala explains that the brain can turn against us, undermining our goals.  Using our experiences, habits and biology, our brain influences what we crave—and whether we will be able to stop—by pulling the strings of pleasure and pain, thereby creating a cycle that is hard to break.  All sorts of factors can be involved in the creation of this pattern. Some are genetic, and others come from the environment in which we were raised. But one thing doctors now know is that we can change what we want by “teaching” our brain how to think differently.  Eventually, Manejwala maintains, we can lose interest in the very thing that used to control us.  A desperate need has the potential to fade—not to be completely forgotten, but certainly not to continue to dominate our everyday life.

Some of the questions Manejwala covers in CRAVING are:

  • How and why do our brains drive our behavior?
  • What are the warning signs that a craving is evolving into an addiction?
  • Why is craving the most difficult component of addiction to address?
  • How can we change the parts of the brain that fuel our cravings?
  • What are some beliefs about cravings that recent research has disproven? (For example, it’s not necessarily true that we want what we can’t have.)
  • What simple steps can we take that can aid in the longer-term process of living without constant craving?

CRAVING will help everyone, from the person who just wants to manage their cravings to prevent them from getting out of control, to an addict (alcoholic, compulsive overeater, shopaholic, gambler, sex-addict, etc.) who has crossed the line and needs to completely reeducate his brain.  Manejwala believes that everyone can get satisfaction by learning what it is they really need and how to get it.

Omar Manejwala, M.D., is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of Catasys in Los Angeles and is the former medical director at Hazelden Foundation.  Dr. Manejwala is a transformative public speaker and appears frequently in the national media to address the topic of addiction and compulsive behaviors.