Aging Substance Abusers Seek Healthcare

ORMSKIRK, England, Sept. 10 (UPI) — The number of aging U.S. drug and alcohol users seeking medical help is estimated to rise from 1.7 million in 2000 to 4.4 million by 2020, researchers say.

Lead author Brenda Roe, a professor at Edge Hill University in England, says the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction estimates the number of people age 65 and over requiring medical treatment in Europe will double during the same period.

“This exploratory study, together with our wider research, suggest that older people who continue to use problematic or illegal drugs are emerging as an important, but relatively under-researched, international population” Roe says in a statement. “They are a vulnerable group, as their continued drug use, addiction and life experiences result in impaired health, chronic conditions, particular health needs and poorer quality of life.”

The small study of 11 people average age 57 finds:

– Some increased their drug use over time, while others had periods when they tried to reduce or even abstain from drugs.

– Physical health conditions included deep vein thrombosis, injection site ulcers, stroke, respiratory problems, pneumonia, diabetes, hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. Malnutrition, weight loss and obesity also featured, as did accidental injuries due to falls and drug overdoses.

– Common mental health problems included memory loss, paranoia and changed mood states, with anxiety or anger also featuring.

The findings are published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

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