More Older Adults Struggle with Substance Abuse

An estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, according to a study in the journal Addiction. In 2008, 231,200 people over 50 sought treatment for substance abuse, up from 102,700 in 1992, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency. While alcohol is typically the substance of choice, a 2013 report found that the rate of illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6 percent in 2013. “As we get older, it takes longer for our bodies to metabolize alcohol and drugs,” said D. John Dyben, Director of Older Adult Treatment Services for the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Someone might say, ‘I could have two or three glasses of wine and I was fine, and now that I’m in my late 60s, it’s becoming a problem.’ That’s because the body can’t handle it.” Many, although certainly not all, of these older individuals with alcohol problems are retired.

Source/more: New York Times

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