Do we underestimate substance misuse among older adults?
In a two part series on substance misuse and older adults the author suggests that one in six older men and one in 15 older women are drinking enough to harm themselves and the prevalence of illicit drug use among older Europeans is increasing.
The nature and pattern of alcohol and drug misuse in older people and the associated psychological and physical comorbidity are different from those in younger people. The development of substance misuse is more likely to be associated with alcohol, and prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.
It is suggested practitioners routinely ask older people questions about their use of alcohol and drugs. In view of the complexity of the health and social issues involved, care, management and treatment should be tailored to meet the specific needs of this vulnerable group.