It is estimated that the number of adults age 50 and over who suffer from substance abuse will increase from 2.5 million in 1999 to 5 million in 2020. Approximately half of those adults admitted for substance abuse treatment suffer from alcohol abuse only, while the other half report alcohol as their primary substance and an illicit drug as a secondary substance (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006).
Substance dependence in older adults includes symptoms such as giving up social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance abuse. Alcohol abuse may result in headaches, reduction in mental abilities, and changes in sleep patterns. Health care workers should be alert to these symptoms especially when associated with losses, personal or family history of substance abuse. (Flood, M. & Buckwalter, K.C. Part 2 (2009).