Illicit and nonmedical drug use among older adults: a review.
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Substance abuse among older adults is a looming public health concern. The number of Americans aged 50+ years with a substance use disorder is projected to double from 2.8 million in 2002-2006 to 5.7 million in 2020. The authors provide a review of epidemiological findings for this understudied area of research by focusing on illicit drug use disorders and nonmedical use of prescription drugs among adults aged 50+ years.MEDLINE and PsychInfo were searched using keywords drug use, drug abuse, drug misuse, substance use disorder, and prescription drug abuse. Using the related-articles link, additional articles were screened for inclusion. This review included articles published between 1990 and 2010.Rates of treatment admissions involving primary use of illicit and misuse of prescription drugs have increased, while rates involving primary use of alcohol only have decreased. Alcohol, opioids/heroin, and cocaine were more likely than other substances to be associated with treatment use. Limited research data suggested the effectiveness of treatments, especially for women. Furthermore, older adults appeared to be less likely than younger adults to perceive substance use as problematic or to use treatment services.There is robust evidence showing that an increased number of older adults will need substance abuse care in the coming decades. Increasing demands on the substance abuse treatment system will require expansion of treatment facilities and development of effective service programs to address emerging needs of the aging drug-using population.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/0898264310386224
Publication InfoWu, Li-Tzy; & Blazer, Dan G (2011). Illicit and nonmedical drug use among older adults: a review. Journal of aging and health, 23(3). pp. 481-504. 10.1177/0898264310386224. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19987.
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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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