This article presents an overview of epidemiology, service use, and clinical considerations on SUD in older adults and suggests future directions. SUD prevalence is lower in older versus younger adults, as are treatment rates among those with SUD. SUDs may be difficult to recognize and treat in older adults due to the presence of other psychiatric and general medical disorders. Better integration of SUD and general medical treatment, and increased attention to social determinants of health, are important future directions for research and treatment of SUD in elders. Multivariate imputations by chained equations (MICE) [40] were used to impute missing values with a proportion lower than 5%. The missing values for income (15.8%) and physical activity (19.7%) were regarded as a classification in the models, respectively.

Regardless of the type, elder abuse can have lasting negative effects on physical and mental health and well-being. That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to the signs and take action as soon as you suspect it’s happening. The Cross-sectional nature of our data constrains our ability to establish causal relationships between the variables of interest.

How are substance use disorders treated in older adults?

The 2012 TEDS data presented in this report are based on data received through October 17, 2013, and include data from 14,000 admissions aged 65 and older. This report did not provide comparable information on frequency of prescription drug misuse. Because prescription drug misuse is the second most common form of illicit drug use in the United States, prescription drug misuse among older adults is an issue to examine with NSDUH prescription drug questions that were added in 2015, although this analysis will require pooled years of data.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. On an average day during the past month, 132,000 older adults used marijuana and 4,300 used cocaine (Figure 1). In this report, the “average day” estimates are presented for only marijuana and cocaine. Because of small sample sizes, “average day” estimates of crack, heroin, hallucinogens, and inhalants could not be produced.

Box 1 Risk factors related to substance use in late life

Studies have shown that older women are more prone to the harmful effects of alcohol than older men due to their lower body mass and certain biological factors. Additionally, women may drink less often than men, but the same amount of alcohol will, on average, affect a woman more severely than a man. This is why it’s vital for older women – and all people – to enjoy alcoholic beverages and other substances responsibly and mindfully. In the current study, we aimed to explore the association between exposure to residential GBN with any or specific psychiatric disorders among middle-aged and older adults in the UK Biobank (UKB), a prospective cohort study of more than half a million adults.

substance abuse in older adults

TEDS data provide information on admissions to substance abuse treatment in 2012, and DAWN data provide information on drug-related ED visits in 2011. Belonging to an older cohort decreased the probability of ever receiving treatment (Blanco et al., 2015). Consistent with this study, NSDUH data indicate that among adults ages 65 and older with SUD, in 2018, 24 percent received treatment for drug use disorders, and 16.8 percent received treatment for alcohol use disorders (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2019).

Substance Use Disorders in Older Adults: A Growing Threat

The use of benzodiazepines, the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs, ranged from 15.2% to 32.0% in persons over 65 that year. Rates of benzodiazepine use are shown to be impacted by misdiagnosis, over-prescription, and misdosing. Unfortunately, there’s no 100% way to be sure, but there are signs a loved one may be abusing that one can look out for. These include secretive or solitary drinking, drinking rituals (before, after, or during dinner), loss of interest in things the person enjoyed doing earlier, and consuming alcohol despite labels on prescription drugs warning about a possible interaction.

substance abuse in older adults

The rise in use of alcohol and drugs, says Lehmann, is in large part attributed to baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964. Many, she says, came of age during an era of substance experimentation and have been “using” for decades. Some screening tools are adaptations of instruments created for younger adults, and others have been designed for older adults. Interview screening tools or global selfreport measures are less intrusive or burdensome to the older adult than blood or urine tests. Furthermore, the use of biologic screening (ie, laboratory tests) has limited utility and can be problematic in older adults, as isolating impaired bodily functions (ie, liver function) as the result of alcohol or other substances versus prescribed medications may be difficult. Each of the instruments listed next have strengths and weaknesses related to resources required to implement them or applicability to older adults.

Substance Abuse and Addiction in Older Adults

For example, studies of older adults conducted by Hayder et al. [17] and Hou et al. [33] found that smoking impacted osteoporosis. Also, Weng et al. [34] reported that smoking leads to a reduction in bone density and is, therefore, an independent risk factor for substance abuse in older adults osteoporosis. Likewise, the results of a study by Yang et al. [7] demonstrated that smoking has a great impact on osteoporosis, especially in males. Wang et al. [35] reported that regular smoking significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

substance abuse in older adults

Counselors can experience many problematic mental health symptoms when burnt out such as toxic negativity; isolation or social withdrawal; anhedonia (loss of interest); or feeling keyed up, angry, or on edge. Substance use disorders of prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs can become a very real nightmare for anyone by accident or not, young or old. Our writers and reviewers are experienced professionals in medicine, addiction treatment, and healthcare. AddictionResource fact-checks all the information before publishing and uses only credible and trusted sources when citing any medical data.

Substance Abuse in Older Adults

The study also showed that about 1 in 25 of those surveyed faced a high risk of a drug interaction. Most brief interventions are described as using aspects of motivational interviewing (MI)118 or motivational enhancement therapy (MET),119 which encourages a client-centered, nonjudgmental approach to discussing substance use and encouraging positive, healthy changes to the individual’s life. Among adults aged 50 years and older in 2012, 4.6 million reported past-year marijuana use, and less than one million reported cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, methamphetamine, and/or heroin use in the past year. The misuse of prescription medications is another prevalent issue among seniors since they often have access to different medicines prescribed by multiple doctors.

It is important to note that many of the health benefits of moderate alcohol use for older adults may come with negative trade-offs. Inpatient treatment is an option for older adults who need around-the-clock care and support while they undergo detoxification and treatment for their substance abuse problems. This type of treatment offers a safe, structured environment with constant access to medical professionals, counselors, and other mental health professionals with expertise in treating older adults suffering from addiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *