SAMHSA's Resource Guide on Opioid Use in the Older Adult Population


SAMHSA's Resource Guide on Opioid Use in the Older Adult Population
With the opioid epidemic receiving increased attention over the last year, there is a lot of information available regarding opioid abuse. In particular, there has been a focus on the population aged 25-40 but there is also concern regarding opioid use/abuse amongst the elderly. The population of older adults who misuse opioids is projected to double from 2004 to 2020, from 1.2 percent to 2.4 percent.

To that end, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has compiled a list of resources on the subject. Titled "Opioid Use In The Older Adult Population", this document acts as a resource that addresses opioid use and older adults.

Compiled by SAMHSA, it presents 14 articles discussing older adults and substance abuse including information regarding alcohol abuse, mental health concerns, and opioid use/abuse.

The following is a list of those resources and a brief description of each:

Hospital Prescribing of Opioids to Medicare Beneficiaries - This study explores opioid prescribing frequency at hospital discharge among Medicare beneficiaries with no opioid prescription claims 60 days prior to hospitalization.

Mortality Among Older Adults with Opioid Use Disorders in the Veteran's Health Administration - Authors in this study used data from the Veteran's Health Administration National Patient Care Database (2000-2011) to compare mortality rates in older adults with OUD to those in younger adults with OUD and to older adults without OUD.

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Elderly - This article describes the increase in the use of prescription drugs, particularly controlled substances, in elderly patients and defines the potential for abuse.

Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse Among Older Adults- This publication explains the definition, prevalence, and impact of psychoactive substances (opioids and benzodiazepines) on older adults. It offers strategies for education, screening, and early interventions for the prevention of prescription medication misuse and abuse.

Patient Characteristics of Opioid Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits Nationally and by State - This statistical brief provides descriptive information on rates of opioid-related hospital inpatient stays and emergency department (ED) visits from 2005 to 2014 across 44 participating states and the District of Columbia.

Prescribing Opioids to Seniors: It's a Balancing Act - This article addresses the delicate balancing act of prescribing opioids to older adults.

A day in the Life of Older Adults: Substance Use Facts - Information provided includes data on the use of substances, admissions to treatment, and emergency department visits for substance abuse.

Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines - This pamphlet identifies medications that can cause harm when taken with alcohol and describes the effects that can result.

Get Connected: Linking Older Adults with Resources on Medication, Alcohol, and Mental Health - This toolkit was created to help health and aging services providers learn more about alcohol and medication misuse and mental health conditions in older adults.

Opioid Misuse Increases Among Older Adults - This report shares data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicating that opioid misuse increased among older adults from 2013 to 2014.

Older Adults Behavioral Health Profiles, Regions 1 - 10 - This publication separates the country into 10 regions and provides information for individual states, regions, and the country on behavioral health indicators for older adults.

As You Age...A Guide to Aging, Medicines, and Alcohol - This publication addresses the interaction of alcohol and medications in older adults.

Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women - This report examines the prevention, treatment, and recovery issues for women who misuse, have use disorders, and/or overdose on opioids.

Concerns About Extreme Use and Questionable Prescribing - This data brief discusses cases where Medicare Part D beneficiaries received higher than normal doses of opioids, often for an extended period.

Opioids can be used safely for patients in treating pain and improving quality of life in older adults. Nearly half of older Americans suffer from a chronic pain disorder and the incidence of chronic pain increases with age. However, those who are involved in the care of older adults need to be aware of the growing problem of opioid use and abuse in the elderly population and what they can do in their individual practices to ensure that these medications are used properly and the danger of abuse and addiction is addressed.

As more information becomes available, SAMHSA is dedicated to updating this site for healthcare professionals.

The entire review can be viewed at:

At AAACEUs, we offer several courses on opioid abuse. If you wish to learn more, we encourage you to take a look at the following courses:
Our courses are pre-approved by CCM, CRC, CDMS, CCAPP, NAADAC, MCBAP, CLCP, CVRP, RRP, CNLCP, RNs, and many more.