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More Older Adults Being Treated for Substance Abuse

From '92 to '08, proportion of adults age 50 and older treated for abuse of illicit substances rose

WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of Americans 50 years of age or older being treated for abuse of illicit substances substantially increased from 1992 to 2008, according to a study sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The findings reveal that substance abuse treatment admissions involving older adults increased from 6.6 percent of all admissions in 1992 to 12.2 percent in 2008. Although the proportion of older adult admissions primarily due to alcohol abuse decreased from 84.6 percent in 1992 to 59.9 percent in 2008, the proportion due to heroin abuse increased from 7.2 to 16 percent.

In addition, the proportion of older adult admissions due to cocaine abuse increased from 2.8 to 11.4 percent, with the proportion due to marijuana abuse increasing from 0.6 to 2.9 percent and the proportion due to prescription drug abuse increasing from 0.7 to 3.5 percent. The proportion of older adult admissions due to the abuse of multiple substances increased from 13.7 to 39.7 percent. In 2008, cocaine abuse was the leading primary cause of older adult admissions involving substances initiated in the last five years (26.2 percent), followed by prescription drug abuse (25.8 percent).

"These findings show the changing scope of substance abuse problems in America," Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., a SAMHSA administrator, said in a statement. "The graying of drug users in America is an issue for any programs and communities providing health or social services for seniors."

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