A new SAMHSA study reveals that between 1992 and 2008 the proportion of substance abuse treatment admissions involving older Americans (aged 50 and older) nearly doubled from 6.6 percent of all admissions in 1992 to 12.2 percent in 2008. The study also shows a sharp rise during this period in the proportion of older Americans admissions related to illicit drug abuse even though alcohol abuse is still the leading cause for admissions involving this age group.
Among its more notable findings the SAMHSA study reveals that from 1992 to 2008 the proportion of admissions among this age group are due primarily to:
- Heroin abuse more than doubled from 7.2 to 16.0 percent.
- Cocaine abuse quadrupled from 2.9 to 11.4 percent.
- Prescription drug abuse rose from 0.7 to 3.5 percent.
- Marijuana abuse increased from 0.6 to 2.9 percent.
At the same time admissions primarily related to alcohol abuse decreased from 84.6 percent in 1992 to 59.9 percent in 2008.
The proportion of older American treatment admissions involving multiple substance disorders has nearly tripled from 13.7 percent in 1992 to 39.7 percent in 2008. For example, the proportion of admissions involving any alcohol abuse in combination with any cocaine abuse more than tripled from 5.3 percent in 1992 to 16.2 percent in 2008.
While the study showed that over three quarters of all older American treatment admissions initiated use of their primary substance by the age of 25, an increasing proportion of admissions involved substances that had only been initiated within five years prior to admission. In 2008, cocaine abuse was the leading primary cause of admissions involving substances initiated in the past five years (26.2 percent) among older Americans, with prescription drug misuse a close second (25.8 percent).
Source: SAMHSA, June 16, 2010
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