Alcohol and drug abuse is one of the fastest growing healthcare problems for Americans 60 years and older. According to the World Bank, from , Americans aged 65 and older made up 14 percent of the total population. Japan was ranked the highest at 26 percent. Elderly substance abuse conflicts so deeply with the average perception of older Americans that it seems oxymoronic. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has collected data on the prevalence of drug abuse among older Americans.
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Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly
prescription pill abuse
Margaret Mattson, Ph. D, Rachel N. Lipari, Ph. Van Horn, M. Illicit drug use generally declines as individuals move through young adulthood and into middle adulthood. Although the percentage of people with substance use disorder SUD reflects the decline in use as people age, more than 1 million individuals aged 65 or older "older adults" had an SUD in , including , older adults with an alcohol use disorder and , with an illicit drug use disorder. Illicit drug use among adults aged 50 or older is projected to increase from 2.
10 Signs of Substance Abuse in Older Adults
Substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and prescription drugs, among adults 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country. Yet, even as the number of older adults suffering from these disorders climbs, the situation remains underestimated, underidentified, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. There is a lack of attention to substance abuse in older adults.
As we age, our health gradually declines. The quite normal aches and pains of youth and middle age become more painful and debilitating. Moreover, our capacity to fight off infection and disease diminishes, and when we are injured or become ill, the healing process is slower. As a result, an increasing number of older persons are using prescription medication to provide relief for the discomfort of aches and pains associated with illness and aging. The overuse and abuse of prescription medication is the most common form of drug abuse among the elderly.