Substance misuse in Vermonters age 65 and older is increasing. With this and the fact that the older adult population is continuing to grow, there is an increased need for awareness of safe substance use, identifying risky use and substance use disorders, and treatment and recovery services for this group. Many are not aware that as we age, changes in the body such as lower water content, less-efficient metabolism and excretion, and increased brain sensitivity, may cause alcohol and drugs to have a stronger effect among some individuals.
Older adults & Alcohol
For older adults who have dementia or are taking medications that interact with alcohol there is no safe level of alcohol use.
These high rates of risky drinking have led to the doubling of alcohol use disorders in this population from 2001-2013 (from 1.5% in 2001/2002 to 3.1% in 2012-2013).
Older adults & Opioids
Most older adults are on prescription medications, and many take multiple prescriptions creating the possibility of complex drug interactions. Additionally, alcohol could alter the effect of some medications either preventing the desired effect or dangerously magnifying it. Symptoms of misuse can be mistaken for symptoms of chronic medical conditions or aging.
Older adults & Marijuana
Marijuana use has increased among all age groups in Vermont, including older adults, with increases in lifetime, past year, and past month use.
Treatment & Recovery Services for Older Adults
Age-appropriate addiction treatment and recovery services for older adults require some special age considerations and are often found effective when embedded in medical settings and integrated with other health and social services.