Substance use disorders and psychiatric comorbidity in mid and later life: a review.
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Globally, adults aged 65 years or older will increase from 516 million in 2009 to an estimated 1.53 billion in 2050. Due to substance use at earlier ages that may continue into later life, and ageing-related changes in medical conditions, older substance users are at risk for substance-related consequences.MEDLINE and PsychInfo databases were searched using keywords: alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, drug misuse, substance use disorder, prescription drug abuse, and substance abuse. Using the related-articles link, additional articles were screened for inclusion. This review focused on original studies published between 2005 and 2013 to reflect recent trends in substance use disorders. Studies on psychiatric comorbidity were also reviewed to inform treatment needs for older adults with a substance use disorder.Among community non-institutionalized adults aged 50+ years, about 60% used alcohol, 3% used illicit drugs and 1-2% used nonmedical prescription drugs in the past year. Among adults aged 50+, about 5% of men and 1.4% of women had a past-year alcohol use disorder. Among alcohol users, about one in 14 users aged 50-64 had a past-year alcohol use disorder vs one in 30 elder users aged 65+. Among drug users aged 50+, approximately 10-12% had a drug use disorder. Similar to depressive and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders were among the common psychiatric disorders among older adults. Older drug users in methadone maintenance treatment exhibited multiple psychiatric or medical conditions. There have been increases in treatment admissions for illicit and prescription drug problems in the United States.Substance use in late life requires surveillance and research, including tracking substance use in the racial/ethnic populations and developing effective care models to address comorbid medical and mental health problems.
Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1093/ije/dyt173
Publication InfoWu, Li-Tzy; & Blazer, Dan G (2014). Substance use disorders and psychiatric comorbidity in mid and later life: a review. International journal of epidemiology, 43(2). pp. 304-317. 10.1093/ije/dyt173. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19974.
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Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
I am currently semi-retired. Most of my recent work has been focused on roles with the National Academy of Medicine (former Institute of Medicine). I have chaired three committees during the past four years, one on the mental health and substance use workforce, one on cognitive aging, and one on hearing loss in adults. I currently also chair the Board on the Health of Select Populations for the National Academies. In the past I have been PI on a number of research
Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Education/Training: Pre- and post-doctoral training in mental health service research, psychiatric epidemiology (NIMH T32), and addiction epidemiology (NIDA T32) from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (Maryland); Fellow of the NIH Summer Institute on the Design and Conduct of Randomized Clinical Trials.Director: Duke Community Based Substance Use Disorder Research Program.Research interests: COVID-19, Opioid misuse, Opioid overdose, Opioid use disorder
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