One Story at a Time
Various factors including social isolation and financial worries put older adults at risk for addictions. Indeed, older adults are the largest consumers of medication, and alcohol consumption is rising. Yet interventions are limited and problems often go unreported. Unearthing “problem” stories in people’s lives (i.e., “the addiction story”) and retelling them in more empowering ways, narrative therapy offers a viable therapeutic alternative, and research on narrative therapy has proven encouraging. However, little is known about narrative therapy with older adults and with addictions. Seeking to address these gaps, an ethnographic study was conducted in Toronto, Canada, with a group of older adults receiving narrative therapy for addictions. Findings suggest that the therapy was “helpful” and participants were able to reduce or halt their substance misuse. Most important, aspects of narrative therapy such as storytelling may be particularly well suited to older adults, offering powerful possibilities for applied gerontology.