More than 20 percent of older adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder. The most common neuropsychiatric conditions are dementia and depression, according to the World Health Organization. Substance-use disorders related to use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications are increasing in prevalence among older adults, along with chronic pain issues that may complicate treatment access.
Substance Use Disorders & Mental Health in Older Adults: Screening, Treatment, & Important Conversations
Published May 25, 2022
While substance use disorders (SUDs) become less common with age, over one million adults ages 65 and older in the U.S. are estimated to live with a substance use disorder. This high prevalence is due, in large part, to the aging of the baby boomers — a generation that has generally been more comfortable with the use of alcohol, marijuana, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and other substances. SUDs can lead to serious illness, worsen existing medical conditions, harm mental health, impact relationships and well-being, increase healthcare usage, and even lead to death.
SUDs in older adults are under-diagnosed and under-treated, despite the fact that as we age, our bodies and brains become more vulnerable to the potential harmful effects of these substances. This resource includes guidance on recognizing and screening for SUDs, tips on having important conversations with your patients about treatment, and links to additional resources.
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