Return to top of page

Substance Use Disorders & Mental Health in Older Adults: Screening, Treatment, & Important Conversations

Published May 25, 2022

Cover Image of Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health in Older Adults

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.

The Healthy Aging Blog

USAgainstAlzheimer’s Shares FAQs About their Important BrainGuide Tool

Headshot of Jim Scott Alliance Board of Directors Chairman.

Chairman’s Blog: CMS Coverage of New Technology

Meet Adina Lasser, the Alliance’s Public Policy Manager

This Mental Health Awareness Month, Learn More About Having Important Conversations

Videos on Mental Health

Watch video

Discussing Mental Health with Geriatric Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Dilip Jeste for This is Growing Old

May is Mental Health Awareness Month as well as Older Americans Month. This critical intersection implores us to explore emotional…

more.
Watch video

Rally for Access

In June 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease–the first new…

more.
Watch video

CMS’ Coverage Decision: It’s Not Just About Alzheimer’s Disease

On February 9, the Alliance for Aging Research hosted a panel discussion on CMS’ decision to restrict coverage for drugs…

more.