Identifying Barriers to Care for Older Adults with Substance Use Disorders and Cognitive Impairments

Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 03/2012; 30(2):211-223. DOI: 10.1080/07347324.2012.663302


Some substance use disorders in older adults may be better conceptualized as hazardous use that is sometimes unintentional and affected by other mental health conditions, including dementia. This study identified (1) the types of substances older adults are abusing, (2) how the disorders are linked to dementia and other mental health issues, and (3) barriers to screening and treatment. Focus groups with inpatient and outpatient treatment teams and a review of medical records were completed. Screenings for substance use disorders and other geriatric syndromes (e.g., depression, dementia) are not widely done and is an area in which improvements can be made.