Show Summary Details
Page of

Alcohol and substance abuse in older people 

Alcohol and substance abuse in older people
Alcohol and substance abuse in older people

Henry O’Connell

and Brian Lawlor

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 September 2021

This chapter highlights the importance of alcohol use disorders (AUDs), inappropriate medication use (IMU) and use of illicit drugs in older people. Such problems are associated with considerable morbidity and will become more important with the ageing ‘baby-boomer’ generation in coming years. AUDs are under-detected, misdiagnosed and often completely missed in older populations. However, despite ageist and pessimistic assumptions, AUDs in older people are as amenable to treatment as in younger people. IMU in older people includes abuse of prescribed medications such as benzodiazepines and opiates, unnecessary treatment of medical and psychiatric conditions and toxic drug reactions related to inappropriate polypharmacy. Screening and treatment programmes for IMU could lead to considerable improvements in individual and population health. Misuse of illicit drugs, e.g. marijuana, cocaine, opioids and stimulants, by older people is not yet a major problem, but will probably become more prevalent and be a more important clinical issue for future generations of older people.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.