Thursday, June 7, 2012

NIH Updates Consumers on Often-Overlooked Health Issue

Data from national surveys reveal a disturbing trend for 50- to 59-year-olds: the number of those reporting past-month abuse of illicit drugs—including nonmedical use of prescription drugs—more than doubled from 2002 to 2010, going from 907,000 to 2,375,000, or from 2.7 to 5.8 percent of this population. Among those 65 and older, 414,000 used illicit drugs in 2010. A new report, Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse, available on, describes this trend and the effects of medication and drug abuse on older adults.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the numbers of older substance abusers may continue to rise, due to aging of the baby boomers, who were more likely than previous generations to have used illicit drugs in their youth.

Although substance abuse by older adults is preventable and treatable, many may not get the help they need because some common warning signs of abuse, such as sleep problems, falls, and depression, can also be signs of other health conditions. The new topic on "NIHSeniorHealth" provides tips on behaviors to watch for and appropriate steps to take if a substance abuse problem is suspected. "This topic is an excellent, easy-to-understand overview of a growing problem," said NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D. "It's a must-read for anyone concerned about substance abuse in themselves, an older relative or friend."

To read more details about the epidemic of prescription painkiller use, see Psychiatric News, here.

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