It’s about time: tackling substance misuse in older people revealing the extent to which problems among older people remain hidden – DrugScope – 27 February 2014

Posted on February 28, 2014. Filed under: Aged Care / Geriatrics, Alcohol & Drug Dep. | Tags: |

It’s about time: tackling substance misuse in older people revealing the extent to which problems among older people remain hidden – DrugScope – 27 February 2014

Drawing on the results of recent studies and government figures, together with DrugScope’s own consultations with academics and health professionals and site visits to specialist services, the report highlights some disturbing trends:

It has been estimated that 1.4 million people aged over 65 currently exceed recommended drinking limits (1);
Between 2002-2010 – alcohol-related hospital admissions for men aged 65 and over have risen by 136% (2);
For women, the percentage rise over the same period has been 132% (2);
Alcohol-related death rates among those aged 55 and over have risen in the past year (3);
For the 75 plus group alcohol-related deaths are at the highest level since 1991, when records began (3);
These trends partly reflect the health consequences of long-term drug or alcohol use, but significant numbers of older people are also ‘late starters’ using substances to self-medicate physical and psychological problems associated with getting older;
Older people constitute the highest group of those using prescription medicines and over the counter drugs (4);
The population of people in treatment for heroin problems is also aging, and their health is increasingly impaired as problems related to heroin use are compounded by the aging process (5).

The report highlights some welcome and effective specialist service provision for older people with drug and alcohol problems, while calling for improved services and interventions for a group that has not been a focus at national drug and alcohol policy level or for health and social care agencies. It concludes that greater awareness of this issue is the critical first step to providing more effective support, with a need for specialist services that are age-appropriate and improved awareness and support in other care settings, including primary and social care.”

… continues on the site

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