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Chronic Disease & Injury

Substance Misuse & Addiction

Medications play critical roles in older people's lives. While medications can prolong life, help manage chronic disease, and improve quality of life, the older adults are cautioned about the naturally slower metabolism, decreased absorption of medicines and drug-drug effects. As older adults age, their chronic conditions frequently increase. This can lead to their consumption of multiple medications—a practice that can have serious, even life-threatening, health consequences.

As the older adult cohort increases rapidly in Arizona, promoting healthy lifestyles is critical, to prevent or manage the many acute and chronic medical and mental health problems influenced by lifestyle choices. In the past, older adults were much less likely than younger adults to use illicit drugs, but still likely to use alcohol. Now, the use, misues and abuse of psychoactive prescription medications (example: pain medications, sleeping pills) has increased, and it’s a more challenging issue to identify than alcohol misuse.

According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the share of people treated for substance abuse who were 50 and over:

  • More than doubled, from 7.2 percent to 16.0 percent, for heroin.
  • For cocaine abuse, nearly quadrupled from 2.9 percent to 11.4 percent. More than a quarter of these had begun use of the drug within the last five years.
  • Rose from 0.7 percent to 3.5 percent for prescription drug abuse.
  • For marijuana abuse increased from 0.6 percent to 2.9 percent

The agency said that during the same period admissions primarily related to alcohol abuse decreased from 84.6 percent in 1992 to 59.9 percent in 2008.



Risk Factors:

Prevention of Substance Misuse and Addiction: