Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 39, Issue 10, October 2010

Substance misuse Management in the older population

Barbara Hunter Dan I Lubman
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The proportion of Australians aged over 65 years is increasing. Although screening and treatment for alcohol and drug issues has traditionally focused on those aged less than 65 years, there is growing evidence of alcohol and drug related harm among older people.
This article broadly discusses our current understanding of alcohol and drug problems among people aged over 65 years, as well as recommended approaches to this issue within primary care.
Current prevalence estimates are likely to underestimate the number of older people with alcohol and drug misuse. Further, only a small number of older people seek specialist treatment for alcohol or drug problems, despite documented harms. Enhanced screening and assessment practices in primary healthcare settings are critical for improving health outcomes for older people with substance use disorders.

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